Undergraduate Research Project Focuses on Personalizing AccessTools

Four Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) students have been working on two projects as a part of the larger AccessRatings for Buildings (ARB) project. AccessTools and AccessPlace are apps aimed at increasing awareness of building accessibility (e.g., accessible bathrooms) in buildings such restaurants, public buildings, etc. AccessPlace is an app used by people with disabilities that rates the accessibility of facilities, whereas AccessTools is an app used by trained raters who have knowledge on accessibility.

In one project, raters code the AccessTools Taxonomy for four different impairment groups. These undergraduate researchers ask, “What questions in the AccessTools taxonomy are relevant for individuals with hearing, vision, cognitive, and mobility impairments?“. The students will first rate a list of questions with a focus on mobility, vision, hearing, and mild cognitive impairments. They will then recruit participants with mobility, vision, hearing, and mild cognitive impairments to rate each question from AccessTools. This is to ensure that the question in AccessTools is necessary and offer ways to improve the app.

A second project assesses the validity of the ratings of people from each of the impairment groups within their impairment groups and across impairment groups. The hypotheses assume that ratings from people with similar impairments will be helpful, while ratings by people with dissimilar impairments will be significantly less helpful.

The overall goal of both studies is to save user’s time with personalized profiles in AccessPlace that filter the exhaustive accessibility data for focused personalized reports.