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HCII Seminar Series - Andrew Begel

Andrew Begel

Andrew Begel
Associate Professor, Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon University


Newell-Simon Hall Room 1305

Video link


"CodeWalk: Facilitating Shared Awareness in Mixed-Ability Collaborative Software Development"

COVID-19 accelerated the trend toward remote software development, increasing the need for tightly-coupled synchronous collaboration. Existing tools and practices impose high coordination overhead on blind or visually impaired (BVI) developers, impeding their abilities to collaborate effectively, compromising their agency, and limiting their contribution. To make remote collaboration more accessible, we created CodeWalk, a set of features added to Microsoft's Live Share VS Code extension, for synchronous code review and refactoring. We chose design criteria to ease the coordination burden felt by BVI developers by conveying sighted colleagues' navigation and edit actions via sound effects and speech. We evaluated our design in a within-subjects experiment with 10 BVI developers. Our results show that CodeWalk streamlines the dialogue required to refer to shared workspace locations, enabling participants to spend more time contributing to coding tasks. This design offers a path towards enabling BVI and sighted developers to collaborate on more equal terms.

Assistive technologies help people with disabilities to adapt to a world that is not designed to accommodate them. My research aims to create the socio-technical infrastructure underpinning accessible technology and inclusive workplaces to provide opportunity, eliminate bias, and empower people with disabilities to fully engage and collaborate equitably with their non-disabled colleagues.

This past month, I joined CMU as a new Associate Professor in the Institute for Software Research. I seek faculty, graduate, undergraduate, and community-based collaborators to help realize this vision of an inclusive workplace. Together, we will develop new accommodating workstations and environments, create new collaborative software tools for remote work, and design novel methods of teaching effective communication skills and promoting positive social relationships between team members. Join me!

Speaker's Bio

Andrew Begel is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Software Research department at Carnegie Mellon University.  Prior to this, he spent over 16 years as a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, USA.  Andrew received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005, and his Master of Engineering and Bachelor of Science degrees from MIT in Cambridge, MA in 1996 and 1997. His research focuses on the use of AI and HCI to increase the accessibility of technology for those with physical and cognitive disabilities. He also studies the communication and collaboration effectiveness of software engineers in collocated and distributed development. His most recent work has been to study and help people on the autism spectrum obtain employment and facilitate social interaction, to help blind software developers collaborate with their sighted colleagues, and to use effective computing and biometrics (including eye tracking) to better understand how software developers do their work. He is a Distinguished Member of the ACM.

Speaker's Website