UMBC and Landmark College were brought together by the AccessComputing grant program’s efforts to unite institutions and groups working toward improving universal access to computing careers (administered by researchers at the University of Washington and funded by the NSF). The collaboration between our two institutions began with applying for an AccessComputing minigrant to run a “Participatory Design Workshop for Accessible Apps and Games” at Landmark. The workshop was funded and held in December 2011.
The goals of the workshop were to expose Landmark students to some of the basic principles of human-computer interaction. We focused on participatory design to show Landmark students how HCI takes into account user needs and characteristics when designing technology, even for diverse user populations such as themselves. The hope was that exposure to these activities would encourage Landmark students to consider careers in computing fields. Students from UMBC also participated, leading the participatory design sessions to get user feedback on mobile apps and games they were designing as part of a course project.
The workshop was a success: Landmark students were very engaged in the design activities, and UMBC students got invaluable experience conducting participatory design sessions with special populations. We hope to continue the collaboration moving forward, either by conducting more similar workshops, or possibly even holding joint courses between Landmark and UMBC.
Landmark College is a small 2-year college in Vermont that is the college of choice for students with learning differences including dyslexia, ADHD and ASD.
UMBC is a 4-year university in the University System of Maryland and is located just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.