GT Computing Faculty and Alum Awarded ASSETS Paper Impact Award

School of Interactive Computing Professors Keith Edwards and Beth Mynatt were given the 2017 ASSETS Paper Impact Award for their 1994 paper Providing Access to Graphical User Interfaces – Not Graphical Screens.

The award is given every other year to the authors of a paper from the ASSETS conference that was presented at least 10 years ago, and has had significant and sustained impact in the literature.

College of Computing and GVU Center alum Kathryn Stockton (M.S. CS, ’94) was also a co-author of the paper and was recognized for her contributions, as well.

Edwards and Mynatt, the current and former directors of the GVU Center, were presented the award at this year’s ASSETS conference, taking place this week in Baltimore, Md. Each received a plaque, and the team was awarded a cash prize of $500.

The awarded paper highlighted the Mercator project, which had a significant and lasting impact on accessibility to graphical user interfaces. It was foundational in enabling and setting the direction of screen reader technology for X Windows, and opening up opportunities for assistive technology.

The paper was one of the first to raise and tackle the challenge of providing screen reader capabilities in graphical user interfaces. It proposed that translation of the GUI should be done at a semantic, rather than syntactic level.

The work includes several ideas that have proven to be important and influential in accessibility, including the use of auditory icons to represent different objects, audio formatting to confer status and other properties, and hierarchical modelling of containment and cause-effect relationships between interface objects.

The notion of defining user interfaces at an abstract level to allow for realization in many forms has been a major research thread in accessibility, leading to the development of several standards, and the underpinning ongoing efforts to develop personalized user interfaces.


David Mitchell

Communications Officer