NWFSC Monster Seminar Jam: Manaswi Saha
This seminar is part of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Monster Seminar Jam series.
Manaswi Saha, Ph.D. student with the University of Washington, is presenting her talk, "Designing Interactive Tools for Understanding Urban Accessibility." The talk will be moderated by Eli Ward (Northwest Fisheries Science Center).
Sidewalks form the backbone of pedestrian infrastructure. Urban accessibility, specifically sidewalk accessibility, significantly impacts the mobility, safety, and independence of millions of citizens, especially people with disabilities. Over 30 million people have some form of disability in the US. Of these, half report using mobility aids. But despite the growing need for accessible sidewalks, many cities remain inaccessible even after 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations being in place. Existing approaches to sidewalk data collection relies on physical audits, which is a laborious and an expensive process. Due to a lack of city scale data, limited tools exist for people to know more about urban accessibility. This talk will present Project Sidewalk (http://projectsidewalk.io), an interactive crowdsourcing-based web tool that collects sidewalk accessibility data virtually by utilizing volunteers who explore city streets remotely. The talk will then touch upon tools that utilize this data, one of which is an interactive web visualization tool that will help (i) visualize and quantify the issue of urban (in)accessibility across cities, (ii) make city’s accessibility efforts more visible, and (iii) aid citizens in holding civic leaders accountable for accessibility issues in their cities. With this project, we hope to build tools that make this issue more visible and drive cities towards improving physical accessibility of urban infrastructure.
Manaswi Saha is a Computer Science and Engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research lies at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), accessibility, urban and civic technology, and data visualization. Her experience in the domain of urban informatics started from her research in energy sustainability of buildings and smart homes. However, in the last four years, she transitioned to urban accessibility, where her work ranges from building navigation tools for people with visual disabilities to tools for generating awareness around urban accessibility. She has published in major HCI conferences, has received several awards and fellowships, including being a Google PhD Fellow, and the work on Project Sidewalk won the best paper award at CHI, the top conference in HCI.
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