CESTA Seminar: Nicholas Giudice on "Improving Accessibility of Maps and Graphics: Promoting Inclusion Through Multisensory Visualizations"

Tue May 3rd 2022, 1:00 - 2:15pm
Event Sponsor
Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)

Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss challenges with current approaches of data visualization (maps, figures, graphs), arguing that traditional practices are often exclusionary and outdated with respect to (1) an understanding of human information processing in the brain and (2) the technologies and user interfaces they use. We will discuss how most ‘visual’ information underlying what is visualized is really ‘spatial’ information and that all of our senses are able to convey spatial information. This opens the door for the efficacy and merit of multisensory approaches to data visualization, which will be discussed in terms of underlying theory related to how spatial information from different senses is processed in the brain and how modern user interfaces can support this new form of visualization. The key take home message is that we need to move beyond vision-only visualizations and that multisensory approaches are not only more accessible and inclusive, but they also model how our brain actually works. Some practical examples will be shared from my research, with the hope of generating discussion.  

About the speaker: Dr. Nicholas Giudice received his Ph.D. in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences program from the University of Minnesota in 2004. He is currently Professor of Spatial Computing in the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Maine and founder and Chief Research Scientist of UMaine’s Virtual Environments and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Lab (https://umaine.edu/vemi). Nicholas’s research focuses on the design and evaluation of bio-inspired multisensory technology supporting graphical access, navigation with and without vision, and autonomous vehicle accessibility. His work is aimed at increasing information access and independence for blind and visually impaired (BVI) people, older adults experiencing visual impairment, and sighted folks in eyes-free situations. He is himself congenitally blind and has a long history of both designing and using assistive technologies. 
Dr. Giudice has published over 150 scientific papers in these areas, advised over 100 graduate and undergraduate students, and collaborated on over $15 million in research grants in this field from NIH, NSF, and NIDILRR. He is on the board of directors of two blindness-related organizations (The Iris Network and ACB of Maine), the editorial board of two accessibility journals (Transactions on Accessible Computing and Assistive Technology), the scientific advisory board of two information-access companies (Aira Tech Corp and Click&Go wayfinding maps), and is the co-founder and Chief Research Officer of UNAR Labs, a Maine-based start-up company designing innovative multisensory technologies promoting inclusive information access.

Respondent: Peter Broadwell, Research Developer in the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research (Stanford University Libraries)