Academics
Areas of Study

Overview

The Master of Science in Accessible Human-Centered Computing is designed for deaf, hard of hearing and hearing individuals seeking specialized academic training in designing, evaluating, and implementing effective, evidence-based accessible design and evaluation strategies and messages to address the accessibility needs of diverse audiences.

Students will also gain knowledge of accessible research design and methods. Graduates of the program will be prepared for a variety of positions, including those in accessibility or information technology in industry, federal agencies, and non-profit organizations.

The program is an international resource for research, innovation and outreach related to deaf and hard of hearing people and provides an environment in which research can grow, develop, and improve the lives and knowledge of all deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide.

Admissions Requirements

To be admitted to the program, applicants must:

Completion of a bachelor’s degree, including, but not limited to computer science, information technology, human-computer interaction, audiology, communication studies, government affairs, psychology, and social work. Relevant work experience in the field of accessible technology will be considered in lieu of a bachelor’s degree in the above fields (Note: this is not waiving a bachelor’s degree requirement. It is only considering other undergraduate majors who have relevant work experience in the field).

Complete and submit a program application by the application deadline date, that includes:

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A letter of interest with a vision statement
  • Approval by the AHCC program, who will review the application to determine if the student shows high promise of success in the program.

Requirements for Degree Completion

  • Completion of 36 credits required by the program, including 30 units of course work and 3 units of the culminating Graduate Project.
  • All course work in the student’s graduate program must be completed with a C or better while maintaining an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Graduate students are required to be enrolled the semester in which their degree is to be awarded.

Courses & Requirements

Summary of Requirements

Year 2

This course will provide an overview of accessible communication devices, ranging from auditory, visual, and vibrotactile receptive communication modalities designed to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing individuals as well as other populations, at home, in the workplace, in educational settings, and for recreational purposes. Communication technologies include systems to facilitate (1) face-to-face communication, (2) the reception of media, (3) telephone reception, and (4) the awareness of environmental sounds. Review and practice with actual volunteer clients of the needs assessment, selection, and verification process will be provided in two hands-on one-day workshops in the Gallaudet Assistive Devices Demonstration Center.
This course will provide an overview of accessible information devices, ranging from auditory and visual information modalities designed to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing individuals as well as other populations, at home, in the workplace, in educational settings, and for recreational purposes including broadcast multimedia or video blogging. Review and practice with actual volunteer clients of the needs assessment, selection, and verification process will be provided in two hands-on one-day workshops in the Gallaudet 21st Century Captioning Research Lab.
Designing meaningful relationships among people and the products they use to ensure that they are accessible is both an art and a science. This course will focus on the unique design practice of representing and organizing information in such a way as to facilitate perception and understanding of accessibility (information architecture) and specifying the appropriate mechanisms for accessing and manipulating task information (interaction design). This course will also explore the various design patterns (design solutions to problems) that are appropriate for the HCI professional. Students will need prior knowledge of an interface prototyping tool.
Data visualization is the art and science of turning data into readable graphics. We’ll explore how to design and create accessible data visualizations based on data available and tasks to be achieved that are accessible to people with diverse sensory abilities. This process includes data modeling, data processing (such as aggregation and filtering), mapping data attributes to graphical attributes, and strategic visual encoding based on known properties of visual perception as well as the task(s) at hand. Students will also learn to evaluate the effectiveness of visualization designs, and think critically about each design decision, such as choice of color and choice of visual encoding. Students will create their own data visualizations, and learn to use Open Source data visualization tools. Students will also read papers from the current and past visualization literature and create video presentations of their findings.
The Master’s Project is a required, culminating project which demonstrates students’ exemplary achievement as a Master’s student. Under the supervision of Department faculty, students will develop projects that significantly advance knowledge in Accessible Technology. Students may elect to produce a Master’s thesis, a creative project, or an applied advocacy project.
Students will undertake an internship in an accessible technology role that is suited to their professional pursuits. These may include serving as Research Assistants within the University, at other Universities, or at federal or private companies. This program provides students with a means to integrate academic theories and principles with practical job experience through internships. The goal of the internship is to gain experience as a competent and effective accessible technology professional.
The Master’s Project is a required, culminating project which demonstrates students’ exemplary achievement as a Master’s student. Under the supervision of Department faculty, students will develop projects that significantly advance knowledge in Accessible Technology. Students may elect to produce a Master’s thesis, a creative project, or an applied advocacy project.
Special Topics in the discipline, designed primarily for graduate students in the program. Students may enroll in 695 Special Topics multiple times, as long as the topics differ.

Year 1

This course examines the practical and theoretical issues of how diverse people interact with personal devices. Students are introduced to an overview of accessible and user-centered design principles and tools that help them develop effective and efficient user interfaces in subsequent courses and in their careers. Topics include HCI history, accessibility, cognitive psychology, and styles assessment, user analysis, task analysis, interaction design, prototyping, and human-centered evaluation.
The course explores the impact of hearing differences on communication, education, participation, and quality of life. A special emphasis is placed on the diversity of communication needs and choices among deaf and hard of hearing people. Then it will examine how communication accessibility is achieved through study of current and emerging technology, trends in industry, public policies, and the government agencies that enforce these policies. Access to telecommunications (including Internet and wireless communications, relay services, etc.), information, video media, emergency services, public accommodations, employment, education, and other contexts are included.
This course covers in depth WCAG (Global), Section 508 (US) and EN 301 549 (EU) from an applied and practical point of view. Students will be introduced to basic approaches on how to apply these standards to widely used information technologies such as web accessibility, PDF accessibility and epub3 to provide access to multimedia such as image or audio.
This course covers in depth widely used standards such as WCAG, Section 508 (US) and EN 301 549 (EU) from an applied and practical point of view. Students will learn how to apply these standards to emerging accessibility fields, such as Extended Reality (XR) accessibility, and to apply these to the software ecosystem and toolchains for documents in Word, PDF and multimedia.
Special Topics in the discipline, designed primarily for graduate students in the program. Students may enroll in 695 Special Topics multiple times, as long as the topics differ.

This three credit course is designed as a guided research course to support students' progress with their individual thesis research topics and methodologies within the field of Deaf Studies. This course is the second of two courses that provide students with experience in preparing their thesis proposals. Students will select their methodology, conduct a literature review, gather preliminary data if applicable, and complete the necessary steps to gain approval for their data collection procedures, such as IRB approval and CITI certification. Students will be introduced to ethical conduct in research, the Institutional Review Board procedures, and grant writing. They will complete and defend their thesis proposals at the end of this course.

Program Outcomes

Upon graduation, AHCC graduates will possess the knowledge and expertise to:

 

Communicate effectively with a range of audiences using both written English and American Sign Language.

 

Analyze an accessibility problem, identify, and define the accessibility requirements, usability specifications, and/or policy requirements appropriate to its solution.

 

Design, implement, and evaluate accessibility in an accessible system, process, component, or program.

 

Collaborate effectively on teams to accomplish a common goal.

 

Demonstrate understanding of the deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind target audiences and ways to engage with them in accessible design.

 

Recognize the importance of professional, ethical, legal, security, inclusion, and social issues, and adhere to the best practices of the accessibility profession.

 

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M.S. in Accessible Human-Centered Computing

Raja Kushalnagar

Christian Vogler

Hall Memorial Building N318

(202) 250-2370

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