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Image of Chieko Asakawa

Chieko Asakawa: See What I Mean: Making Waves with the Blind


Presentation 1:

(15min opening + 60min live talk + 15min live QA)
  • JST May 10 (Mon) 06:30-08:00
  • CEST May 10 (Mon) 23:30-01:00
  • EDT May 09 (Sun) 17:30-19:00
  • PDT May 09 (Sun) 14:30-16:00


Presentation 2:

(60min video + 15min live QA)
  • JST May 10 (Mon) 21:00-22:15
  • CEST May 10 (Mon) 14:00-15:15
  • EDT May 10 (Mon) 08:00-09:15
  • PDT May 10 (Mon) 05:30-06:15


Abstract: Technology has played an unprecedented role in changing the lives of people with visual impairments -- in the cyber-world, in the real world, and even in blending these worlds together. Paper braille has moved to digital, and blind people can now download braille books from the net and read them via braille pin displays or print them out using nearby braille printers. Because of the internet, blind people have new independence in obtaining the information they need, without needing others to gather and deliver the information to them. Smartphones have added new value to real-world experiences with not only information but also control. For example, some appliances that used to have limited access now allow blind people to operate them through smartphones. Smartphones and sensors are now also enabling new tools to understand locations and surroundings, so that blind people can navigate more safely to their destinations. Blind people will also soon be able to independently enjoy sightseeing, window shopping, and finding a nice restaurant. Thus, technology is truly making waves to make the impossible possible for blind people.


Chieko is an accessibility researcher and is blind herself. In this talk, she will present how technology has improved the quality of her life, showing various examples through her daily life. She will also describe her latest work on NavCog, a smartphone-based navigation system, and AI Suitcase, a navigational robot to help the blind navigate in the world. Her talk will include new needs that became apparent under the pandemic and present possible ways to address these needs. Finally, she will discuss how we can accelerate the implementation of new technologies into our society and what will be expected of the CHI community to make our world accessible and inclusive.

Biography: Chieko Asakawa is an IBM Fellow and IBM Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, working in the area of accessibility. Her initial contribution to the field started from braille digitalization and moved onto the Web accessibility, including the world’s first practical voice browser. Today, Chieko is focusing on advancing cognitive assistant research to help the blind regain information by augmenting missing or weakened abilities in the real world by the power of AI. She has been serving as an IBM Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 2014. She will concurrently serve as Chief Executive Director of the Japanese National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) from April 2021. In 2013, the government of Japan awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon to Chieko for her outstanding contributions to accessibility research. She also received American Foundation for the Blind 2020 Helen Keller Achievement Award. She was elected as a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2017, inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) in 2019.

Image of Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin: "Which Humans? Innovation, Equity, and Imagination in Human-Centered Design"


Presentation 1:

(60min live talk + 30min live QA)
  • JST May 11 (Tue) 06:30-08:00
  • CEST May 11 (Tue) 23:30-01:00
  • EDT May 10 (Mon) 17:30-19:00
  • PDT May 10 (Mon) 14:30-16:00


Presentation 2:

(60 min video + 30min Live QA)
  • JST May 11 (Tue) 21:00-22:30
  • CEST May 11 (Tue) 14:00-15:30
  • EDT May 11 (Tue) 08:00-09:30
  • PDT May 11 (Tue) 05:30-06:30


Abstract: From patient care to online learning, human-centered design addresses a variety of issues with research and tools that can help us better understand our world and ourselves. But without careful consideration for the social dimensions of innovation, we risk reinforcing longstanding forms of inequity and injustice, and even producing new forms of discrimination and exclusion. In this talk, Ruha will examine a range of technologies used in education, healthcare, employment and more, and present conceptual tools we can use to think about the social values embedded in our research, pedagogy, and designs.


Biography: Ruha Benjamin is a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press). She has studied the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine for over fifteen years and speaks widely on issues of innovation, equity, health, and justice in the U.S. and globally. She is also a Faculty Associate in the Center for Information Technology Policy; Program on History of Science; Center for Health and Wellbeing; Program on Gender and Sexuality Studies; Department of Sociology; and serves on the Executive Committees for the Program in Global Health and Health Policy and Center for Digital Humanities. Ruha is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the 2017 President's Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton. She is currently working on her next book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want, born out of the twin plagues of COVID-19 and police violence—a double crisis that has since created a portal for rethinking all that we’ve taken for granted about the social order and life on this planet.

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