Faculty Candidate Seminar

Advancing Sound Accessibility

Dhruv JainPh.D. CandidateUniversity of Washington

Zoom link, passcode:  333367


Abstract:  The world is filled with a rich diversity of sounds ranging from mundane beeps and whirs to critical cues such as fire alarms or spoken content. These sounds can be inaccessible not only to people with auditory-related disabilities such as those who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) but also to hearing people in many situations. We all may find conversations difficult to hear in noisy bars, doorbells inaudible over a vacuum cleaner running, or may miss our phone ringing while in the shower.

My work advances sound accessibility by developing interactive systems that leverage state-of-the-art in machine learning, signal processing, and wearable technology to sense and provide sound feedback. To design these systems, I follow an iterative user-centric research process ranging from formative studies to design and evaluation of prototypes in controlled environments, to crucially, deployments of full systems in the field. In this talk, I will discuss my past and ongoing research to advance three areas of sound accessibility: providing awareness about everyday sounds, supporting speech-based conversations, and improving accessibility of sounds in emerging technologies such as AR/VR and smartwatches. I will then conclude with outlining my future plans.

Bio: Dhruv “DJ” Jain is a final year PhD student in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. His research lies in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and focuses on accessibility. He has published over 20 papers in top HCI and accessible computing venues such as CHI, UIST, and ASSETS; seven have been honored with best paper and honorable mention awards. DJ’s work has also been covered by the media (e.g., by CNN, New Scientist, and Forbes), is included in teaching curricula, and has been publicly launched (e.g., one system has over 75,000 users). During his graduate studies, he has worked at Microsoft Research, Google, and Apple on research addressing accessibility challenges on future commodity devices. DJ’s work is supported by a Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant and a Google CMD-IT LEAP Alliance Fellowship. See more at: https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~djain/.


Cindy Estell

Student Host

Jaylin Herskovitz

Faculty Host

Anhong Guo