Universal Access: Disability, Technology, and Society

CMPE 80A: Universal Access: Disability, Technology, and Society

See Forum Posting for Make Up Quiz details

What is the course about?

This course presents an overview of human-centered technology and of its potential for increasing the quality of life and independence of individuals with disabilities. A substantial portion of the course is devoted to studying physical, psychological, and psychosocial aspects of disability. Topics include: diversity and integration, legislation, accessibility, and universal design.


When and where?

Stevenson Acad 150, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 3:30-4:40 PM

Who to contact?

Sri Kurniawan: Instructor
Dustin Adams and Zachary Rubin: TA (office hour: Fridays 3:30-5:00 PM at Engineering 2, room 309).

Email: ce80a.spring13@gmail.com

Course arrangement: The course is set up as follows:

  1. A theoretical lecture on a certain disability or special situation, either by the instructor or a guest lecturer.
  2. A lecture or demonstration of technologies that can mediate the effects of the special needs presented previously, either by the instructor or a guest lecturer.
  3. Doing some assignments or watching videos (in lieu of coming to class). Videos will be taken from freely available sites such as youtube or ted), mostly on inspiring "guest lecturers". See an example of a youtube video that will be used in the class to get a feel: Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke story.


  • Group project: 50%. You will notice, the total for this group poject's grade is 55%. I do not accept any late submission for any reason and hence the reason for the 5% grade cushion. 
    Breakdown: 40% for the weekly and final reports, 10% the poster and Q&A performance, 5% all of the supporting evidences - audio/video files, interview transcripts, etc. This means that you need to keep a record of the actual supporting documents of every interviews, focus group discussions, videotapes of the group project sessions - audio/video files and handwritten/typed transcripts - this will need to be attached to the final report.
  • Attendance: 20% - this will be in the form of pop quizzes at random times, either on the lecture topics or the movies you were supposed to watch the previous week. There is no pre-set number of quizzes and I do not accept any reason for missing the class, but I will drop the lowest grade (so essentially you can skip one pop quiz).
  • Exam: 30% total. 

Policies and accommodation

  • All students enrolling in this class are advised that Academic Integrity will be strictly enforced. Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating academic dishonesty or as further specified in campus regulations.
  • If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please submit your Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to me in a timely manner, preferably within the first two weeks of the quarter. Contact DRC at 459-2089 V, 459-4806 TTY.

Group project

The theme of this group project is "Helping persons with special need through technology." The following are the breakdown of the tasks you need to do. Submissions are due on Monday the following week at 5:00 PM by email to ce80a.spring13@gmail.com (based on our timestamp). 

  • The latest on week 3: Form a team of 3-4 students. Each student must submit an identical pdf or Word document by email to ce80a.spring13@gmail.com with the group names and emails as well as the person(s) responsible for the deliverables in the following weeks (you can always say that everybody is responsible for everything if you choose to).
  • Week 4: Your group project requires you to work with at least 3 people with special needs, which can be those with disability, people 60 years old or older, those with low or no literacy, etc. Email us with a few sentences explaining (i) who (in terms of special needs, e.g., people with mobility impairments, not their real names) and (ii) where and how you plan to recruit them. We will reply with either a go ahead or a response that the proposed persons are inappropriate. Do not recruit the individuals until you hear back from us.
  • Week 5: Recruit your target population (from here on they will be called your "partners"). Submit a Word or pdf document with their deomgraphics data (age, gender, disability/special need, how long they have been in that situation/disability). Please be sensitive when asking these questions, if you realize they do not wish to answer a certain item, do not force them to answer. Please provide your best estimates. Include in that document a picture of each partner (you can blur their faces if they do not wish to have their faces revealed to us).
  • Week 6: This week you have to do two things: interview and observe.
    For the interview:
    Ask them about their relationship with technology. Ask them at the very minimum the following questions:
    1. The technologies they currently use and the difficulties they face with those technologies.
    2. How those technologies (or the difficulties they face with those technologies) affect their lives.
    For the observation:
    Spend either a morning or an afternoon with each of your partners. Write a documentary (text and pictures) with at least an hourly breakdown of the activities they do. Provide more detail if the activities involve technologies. Submit in pdf or Word format with timestamps and descriptions of the activities. You need to spend at least 4 hours with each partner. 
    12:00pm - She sat down and turned on the television and started watching Oprah. When she was using the remote she had to hold it close up to her face so she could see the labels on the buttons. 
    12:30pm - She turned off the television and walked over to the kitchen. She had difficulty standing up from the couch. 
    Submit 1-2 pages report in pdf or Word format and upload a 3 minutes sample audio recording of the interview with each person. 
  • Week 7: Run a focus group with these 3 people and ask them to come up, as a group, with a piece of technology that is beyond a simple computer or cell phone (but complex computer tasks such as video creation and upload on YouTube or complex technology such as smart phones are acceptable) that they would like to use but can't because of their conditions. Your task is to guide them asa group to learn to use their chosen piece of technology, from the simplest task to the most complex task. Please note that the piece of technology that you will be teaching them has to be a complex enough system that would require multiple operations and a system that can do tasks of varying complexities. So for example, a toaster in which you just need to put the bread slices in and adjust the darkness will not be appropriate. Therefore, use your judgment as to whether the piece of technology that they asked you to teach them is appropriate - you can still teach them the requested piece of technology, just not as a course project that is worth 60% of your grade. Suggested guiding questions are:
    1. What piece of technology (you may explain that this encompasses device/appliance/computer application/webpage) do you always want to use but have not been able to use successfully?
    2. Why is it important for you to be able to use it?
    3. Please list the top 5 tasks you want to do with this piece of technology.
    4. How do you know when you are successful (with the use of this technology)?
    Write 1-2 pages summary of the interview results in a pdf or Word document format and create a 5 minutes of the audio file of the focus group discussion. Email both in a zipped file to us.
  • Weeks 8-9: Teach them to do at least 5 tasks using this technology. We might suggest additional tasks. You need to record the progression. You also need to access their success and confidence through an interview (just ask them how confident they are and observe how much help they still need from you). Submit your work through email to us on Monday of Week 10.
  • Week 10: This week you need to do a formal "assessment": ask them to do the most complex tasks, do not help them at all. Afterwards ask them the following questions (adapt as necessary):
    1. How did you think you do with that task/system?
    2. How has knowing how to use the system changed you/your life?
    3. If you have to teach somebody else to use this task/system, what would be the top 3 advices you would give them?
    4. What would be the top 3 suggestions to the designer of this system to make it easier for people like you to use it?

During the exam day, the report and all of the supporting documents (paper and electronic) are due.

  • Exam week (this year it's June 11th, 2013 8:00-11:00 AM in the same room): Project presentation in the form of poster, max size 3'x5', which at the very minimum must include the motivation (why that particular user, why that particular technology, why those tasks), a series of screenshots of these people using the technology from the beginning of the project to the moment of independent use. Posters will be graded on the clarity, comprehensiveness of information, and how professional they look (but don't feel obliged to print in color, you won't get penalized for a black and white posters if they look professional). Ask us for more information. In this session, there will also be peer-grading and Q&A from us (and your peers). 

Instructors and Assistants