SIGCHI’s Involvement in Public Policy
Public policy increasingly plays a role in influencing the work that we do as HCI researchers, interaction designers, and practitioners. Public policy is a broad term that includes both government policy but also policy coming from non-governmental organizations such as standards bodies. Government policies are sometimes limited to a single country, and sometimes involve more complex governing structures (e.g. the European Union), but the community of HCI researchers and designers is worldwide. It is important that members of SIGCHI, who are knowledgeable about interfaces and interaction design, inform policy makers about the existing research, and create standards and guidelines that can be adopted by governments around the world.
Two examples of well-known CHI policy topics:
- how to facilitate fair and accurate voting (what types of interfaces, what types of voting machines), and
- what types of web-based information should be legally required to be accessible for people with disabilities.
The two examples provide a stark contrast: HCI experts were involved in accessibility policies from the beginning, driving the development of international standards which were then adopted (in modified form) by most governments around the world. HCI experts were not greatly involved in voting machine usability until after the topic came to the forefront of public policy discussion, and the HCI community has still not gotten the attention of policymakers, or made a significant impact in this area. Other potential topics related to public policy and interaction design include the use of interfaces that cause distracted driving, government requirements for multi-lingual web sites, end-user licensing agreements, privacy controls in interfaces, interfaces (and guidelines and processes) for usable e-government information, and interfaces on e-books used in education.
Good design and good research should be the driving force behind these decisions, not just commercial values and local politics. Members of the SIGCHI community are perfectly positioned to offer grounded advice to public policymakers about how people interact with technology, and thus directly affect how people interact with devices, applications and services in the future. The goals of SIGCHI related to public policy are to increase awareness, disseminate information, and involve community members in policy-related activities
SIGCHI appointed a chair of public policy in May 2010, Jonathan Lazar, who has been working to bring the topic of public policy to the attention of SIGCHI members, and has formed a SIGCHI international public policy committee. Since 2004, SIGCHI already had a US Public Policy Committee, which focuses on CHI policy issues specific to the United States. In 2014, the SIGCHI US Public Policy Committee was integrated into the overall SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee. There is also a SIGCHI Listserve Policy. And at CHI 2013, a workshop was held on “Engaging the Human-Computer Interaction Community With Public Policymaking Internationally.” The SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee recently completed a formal report on “Human-Computer Interaction and International Public Policymaking: A Framework for Understanding and Taking Future Actions.”
SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee
- Julio Abascal, University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Spain
- Simone Barbosa, PUC-Rio, Brazil
- Jeremy Barksdale, Virginia Tech, USA
- Anne Bowser, University of Maryland, and Wilson Center, USA
- Janet Davis, Grinnell College, USA
- Vanessa Evers, University of Twente, Netherlands
- Batya Friedman, University of Washington, USA
- Marie Gilbert, University of California-Irvine, USA
- Jan Gulliksen, KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, Digital Champion of Sweden, Chairman of the Digital Commission of Sweden, Sweden
- Harry Hochheiser, University of Pittsburgh, USA
- Juan-Pablo Hourcade, University of Iowa, USA (Chair of US Public Policy)
- Jeff Johnson, UI Wizards & Wiser Usability, USA
- Joaquim Jorge, Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal
- Anirudha Joshi, IIT Bombay, India
- Jonathan Lazar, Towson University, USA
- Loïc Martínez Normand, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
- Tom McEwan, Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom
- Lisa Nathan, University of British Columbia, Canada
- Philippe Palanque, Université Paul Sabatier, France
- Fabio Paterno, CNR-ISTI, Italy
- Raquel Prates, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Sophie KyoungHee Son, KAIST, Korea
- Janice Tsai, Microsoft, USA
- Manfred Tscheligi, University of Salzburg, Austria
- Hans Von Axelson, Handisam, Sweden
- Marco Winckler, Université Paul Sabatier, France (Chair of EU Public Policy)
- Volker Wulf, University of Seigen, Germany
“Interacting with Public Policy” Forum in Interactions Magazine
Since January 2010, Interactions magazine has had a forum on “interacting with public policy” and articles from that forum are suggested reading on the topic:
- Jan/Feb 2010: Interacting with Public Policy
- Mar/Apr 2010: From bowling alone to tweeting together: technology-mediated social participation
- May/June 2010: Accessibility and public policy in Sweden
- July/Aug 2010: Driving transportation policy through technological innovation
- Sept/Oct 2010: Interacting with Policy in a Political World: Reflections from the Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal Project
- Nov/Dec 2010: L’Administration Électronique: the French approach to e-Government
- Jan/Feb 2011: Design and Public Policy Considerations for Accessible E-book Readers
- May/June 2011: Are HCI Researchers an Endangered Species in Brazil?
- May/June 2011: Public Policy and HCI in the US Context (not in the forum, but a related topic)
- Sept/Oct 2011: Envisioning Persuasion Profiles: Challenges for Public Policy and Ethical Practice
- Nov/Dec 2011: Electronic Medical Records: Usability Challenges and Opportunities; (not in the forum, but a related topic)
- Jan/Feb 2012: Why the CHI Community Should Be Involved in Standards: Stories from Three Participants
- May/June 2012: HCI public policy activities in 2012: a 10-country discussion
- Sept/Oct 2012: Understanding HCI Policy in Spain in the Context of Accessibility
- Jan/Feb 2013: Ergonomics and US Public Policy
- Mar/Apr 2013: Elections: “We Have To Fix that”
- May/June 2013: Public Policy Issues in Augmentative and Alternative Communication Technologies: A Comparison of the UK and USA
- Sept/Oct 2013: Public Policy and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project
- Jan/Feb 2014: Sharing Data While Protecting Privacy in Citizen Science
- May/June 2014: Public Policies and Multilingualism
- Sept/Oct 2014: HCI Public Policy Issues in U.S. Libraries
- Jan/Feb 2015: Public Policy and Violence in Video Games
- May/June 2015 (to appear): Public Policies and Accessibility: The Role of Tool Support
SIGCHI U.S. Public Policy Committee Activities
In 2014, the SIGCHI US Public Policy Committee was integrated into the overall SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee. Since its creation in late 2004, the SIGCHI U.S. Public Policy committee had accomplished the following:
- Wrote a white paper titled The Need for Usability of Electronic Voting Systems: Questions for Voters and Policy Makers, in response to a call for input from the National Academy of Sciences
- Coordinated the first CHI Social Impact Award, given in 2005 to Gregg Vanderheiden
- Held a SIG meeting at CHI 2005 in Portland, on the topic of Making an Impact in Your Community: HCI and US Public Policy (note: the link goes to the ACM Digital Library, which requires a subscription)
- Published a short paper in Interactions on the topic of Policy at the Interface: HCI and Public Policy (link to ACM DL)
- Published a fact sheet on the Election Incident Reporting System by Jeff Johnson
- Held a workshop on Public Policy at CHI 2006 in Montreal. The href=”http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1125451.1125755″>workshop extended abstract is also available from ACM DL.
- Authored a Policy Statement on Universal Internet Accessibility which was approved by SIGCHI-EC on February 20, 2007. A revised version of the accessibility policy statement was approved by the entire USACM in 2008.
- Held a panel on the topic of CHI Policy Issues Around the World at CHI 2008 in Florence, Italy. A copy of the extended abstract on CHI Policy Issues Around the World is available from the ACM Digital Library.
- Held a panel on e-government at the CHI 2010 conference in Atlanta, GA. A copy of the extended abstract on the e-government panel is available from the ACM Digital Library.
- Organized a SIG on the NSF Broader Impacts criterion at the CHI 2011 conference in Vancouver, BC. A copy of the extended abstract on the Broader Impacts SIG is available from the ACM Digital Library. Slides and additional resources are also available.
- Organized a panel titled, “Occupy CHI! Engaging U.S. Policy Makers” at the CHI 2012 conference in Austin, TX. A copy of the extended abstract is available from the ACM Digital Library. Slides are also available.
Additional Public Policy Links
The following links to articles on public policy are recommended:
- UPA Usability in Civic Life Project
- AIGA Design for Democracy
- HFES Government Relations Committee
- European Union “Information Society” Policy
- American Library Association Issues and Advocacy
- USACM (the US Public Policy Committee of the entire ACM)
- AAAS Information on Science and Policy