Pre Thesis Chronological Documentation

Sep 10, 2020

This page is a chronologial documentation of the Pre-Thesis class at NYU 2020 Fall. It also contains a weekly process blog for the assignment.

Sep 10, 2020

What I did

  • Create this blog post for documentaion
  • Grasping my current situation
  • Made the 1st mind map
  • Thoughts

Grasping my current situation

  • I know roughly what I want to do for my thesis, that is, something related to accessibility, people with disabilities, and technology. I took the Museum Accessibility class at 2020 Spring offered by the Ability Project at NYU, which was very challenging but rewarding experience. I want to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and contribute to making the world more inclusive. But not sure for the detaiuls yet, such as how, whom I want to work for, etc.

  • My skill/background

    • My undergraduate degree is CS and Math so I know some coding, data science, statistics, etc. I can make a website and web/smartphone application.
    • I know some electric engineering (if I can say so) and digital fabrication so I can make physical things with some electric devices.
    • I am Japanese. My native language is Japanese. Japanese culture must have huge influence on me, consciously and unconsciously. As an international student in the US, I am experiencing something new such as BLM movement, racial discrimination, minority, social class, social division, etc.
  • I have been involeved in several organizations/labs.

    • I have been a member of the Ability Project since then, attending a weekly meeting and trying to get more information about accessibility.
    • I just became the 1st official Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) Fellow at NYU. (‘TOM - Tikkun Olam Makers - is a global movement of communities that creates and disseminates affordable solutions to neglected challenges of people living with disabilities, the elderly and the poor.'')
    • At PINE at NYU, I helped to add alt text to the images.
  • Researches I involved related to accessibility.

    • Sensory Resources Guide For Museums: Started from the Museum Accessibility class, we submitted a short paper (poster) to the ASSETS2020. Unfortunately, our paper was not acceppted but it was a great experience and we are still looking for other chances to submit it.
    • I am helping one of PhD students at the Ability Project for her research. That is to hold a workshop to support web development for people who use screen readers (people who are blind or with low vision).

Mind map 1

I made my 1st mind map to try to organize my thought. mindmap1


  • I am struggling to narrow down my focus. The following are just a few that I can think of (but must be more). Ultimately, it should be the matter of what I want to/what I can do /what is needed in the world.
    • Make something physical (product?) for a certain type of people with disabilities.
    • Make something degital (product or service?) for a certain type of people with disabilities.
    • Make community to support/educate
      • people with disabilities. (eg. conducting a web development workshop for people using screen reader as I do now, matching need-knower and engineer as TOM does, etc)
      • company, society. (eg. Authentic Inclusion by Frances West, how to motivate company to be more inclusive, etc)
    • Pick up a certain place/product/service and make it more accessible, such as:
      • museum for people who have sensory overload, who are blind, etc.
      • music concert for people who have hearing loss.
      • create music instrument for people who have mobility disabilities.
      • make online education system more accessible.
      • make information, especially information visualization, more accessible for people who are blind.
    • and?
  • Some other keywords for me
    • Education, Sustainability (money, motication, and?), Hack, Confidence, Community, Awreness

Sep 11, 2020

Observing PhD dissertation

I observed William Easley‘s PhD dissertation to broaden my research interest (and also I might want to go to PhD program). His research interests are ‘in the areas of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), assistive technology/accessibility, and engineering education’ and his dissertaion was about ‘how youth employees (at the 3D print shop) collaborate on and coordinate complex work in order to determine how we can better support this population as they prepare to enter the professional workforce’.

Sep 12, 2020

Accessible Web Development workshop

This was the fourth class of the workshop I'm assisting that is about web development for people who use screen reader. One of my roles is to assist creating lecture materials to teach screen reader users about the color palette for web development. It is challenging but fun.

Sep 13, 2020

TOM kickoff

Today was the kickoff of TOM‘s fellowship program. I have a mixture of emotions - excited, wanting to do my best, anxiety, etc. I've been advised by several people who I trust and it's great to have so many people who are willing to support me.

What I want to accomplish with my TOM fellowship are:

  • to build/design community.
  • to build/design workshops/events.
  • to understand different views/perspectives on accessibility/disability due to cltural differences/social structures/etc.

Weekly Process Blog 1

Sep 7-14: This week, I analyzed myself (who I am, what I can do, what I have done, etc) for the sake of organizing my thoughts (please see above if you are interested). I've been involved in some things about accessibility since this spring, attending events and webinars, reading books and academic papers, writing a short research paper (which was not accepted unfortunately), helping people with their research, etc. They have mainly helped me to expand my horizons. To organize my thoughts, I made my 1st mind map. This coming few weeks should be an opportunity for me to narrow down which areas of accessibility I wanted to research from the vast field of accessibility.

There are a few things I'm struggling to decide, one of which is which types of disability I want to focus on. In the Museum Accessibility class, we learned three major categories of disability: Motor, Cognitive, and Sensory, and so far I have worked on only sensory issues.

In that class, I challenged how mitigate sensory overstimulation situation in the museum (such as loud noise, sudden light, etc) and my team summarized sensory resources information for museums as a website: Sensory Resources Guide for Museums. We know there are many things to improve. We haven't done actual user test for what we have developed. We know there are more problems to tackle such as how to measure crowdness in museums. We wrote a short paper for the ASSETS 2020 but was not accepted unfortunately, and it is not a great feeling that I have something undone. Those might be one possible thesis topic.

I am also working for people who use screen readers, mainly people who are blind or who have low vision. I am assisting one of PhD students’ research at the Ability Project as a research member to hold a workshop to teach web development for people who use screen readers. I am really excited this opportunity. I did not realize how heavily information is conveyed via visuals (felt the same when I finished the Information Visualization Specialization course this Summer), how a lot of current websites are inaccessible for people with screen readers, how a lot of designers/companies are still unaware of this issue, etc. Those might be one possible thesis topic as well.

Having written so far, I find myself kind of overwelmed because I have not been able to organize well enough. I thought it would be a good idea to sort out what researches have being done now and what issues remain to be addressed. It will help me to find out what issues I need to work on now and in a few years.


Bass Hug