Finding novel HCI paradigms for ASL-centric Interfaces for Deaf Users

The next BostonCHI meeting is Finding novel HCI paradigms for ASL-centric Interfaces for Deaf Users on Tue, Nov 14 at 6:00 PM.

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BostonCHI presents a hybrid talk by Shruti Mahajan

Note: This is a hybrid event.


Creating high-quality resources that are easily accessible in American Sign Language (ASL) is important and valuable to the Deaf community because it allows access to resources in the community’s first language and empowers individuals by increasing representation. However, even with videos signed by ASL-fluent experts and high-quality cameras that produce clear and well-understood video content, embedding the videos into online resources becomes necessary for users to access them through their screens and devices. Simply adding videos to an English-centric layout leads to unsatisfactory results because language conventions, differences in intuition, and expectations create varying scanning patterns and differing expectations regarding the placement and presentation of information. Therefore, careful design choices regarding the videos and their surroundings must be made to overcome this challenge.

Our research focuses on designing interfaces that do not rely on English fluency. In one of our projects, we are developing an ASL-centric survey tool that enables users to create, distribute, and respond to surveys in ASL. Our objective is to study UI design elements that can help users intuitively navigate resources without relying on English. We have conducted several rounds of user studies with Deaf participants to gather feedback and iterate on our designs. Lastly, we aim to contribute to the advancement of collaborative, human-centered methods and research by carefully reflecting on our user study methods and working toward creating guidelines for conducting research for and with the ASL community.

We collaborate with the ASL Education Center in Framingham, MA for this research.

About Shruti Mahajan

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction lab, Computer Science department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). My research interests are accessibility and tangible user interfaces. My Ph.D. advisors are Prof. Erin Solovey and Prof. Gillian Smith. In my dissertation work, I focus on designing and studying user interfaces in American Signed Languages for the Deaf community. Additionally, I am also interested in working with tangible user interfaces. In this area, my research projects include working with touch-sensitive fabrics and Augmented Reality (AR) in collaboration with the Center for Functional Fabrics at Drexel University. My work has been accepted to CHI and ASSETS conferences. Across all my research projects, I care deeply about conducting user-centered and participatory research.

Apart from research, I am actively involved in several mentoring, outreach, and teaching activities at WPI. Outside work, I enjoy science fiction books/movies, and learning new languages!


This is a hybrid event. The in-person component will be held at

Braker Hall, Room 001
Tufts University
8 Upper Campus Rd
Medford, MA, 02155

Link to campus map:

Paid parking is available at 419 Boston Avenue, Medford, 02155, and T access is via the Green Line, Medford / Tufts MBTA Station.

We’ll also be streaming via Zoom. The Zoom link will be provided to registered attendees ahead of the event. This event will be recorded.

Driving a world-class human-centered culture in your organization

The next BostonCHI meeting is Driving a world-class human-centered culture in your organization on Tue, Oct 17 at 6:45 PM.

Register here

BostonCHI October 2023, featuring Tom Wintering and Neal Larkin


Ever feel like representing the user is the Sisyphean task of your organization?

Constantly evangelizing human-centered design principles as a core ingredient to the organization’s success and never seeing it included in the recipe? Seen as a siloed tactician rather than a strategic thought-partner? Building on Jared Spool’s fantastic discussion on the ways you can unleash your individual potential by changing your approach, we’ll explore the other end of the equation: how to support other functions, from senior executives to frontline team members, to understand and embrace design thinking as dual set of mindsets and problem-solving approaches unlocking step-change growth for individuals, teams, and the organization (and, of course, your customers).

Neal Larkin Bio

Neal is Associate Partner in design, technology and digital business building with McKinsey & Company. He specializes in creating customer-centric strategies and designing / launching new products for start-up businesses. Prior to McKinsey he was a Managing Partner from carbon12, a McKinsey acquisition, where he established best in class design process and helped build strategic design teams in the US, Europe and Kiev to serve clients in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Tom Wintering Bio

Tom is a senior expert in McKinsey’s Customer Experience, Innovation, and Design Practices, with a specific focus on organizational culture change. He spends most of his time helping clients build out their CX and Innovation functions while simultaneously enabling cross-functional teams at every level to leverage design thinking in their day-to-day decision-making. Prior to McKinsey, Tom was a Product Manager at Amazon where he first discovered, fell in love with, and saw the potential of design, and witnessed the power of Design teams who educated their non-Design peers on a customer-first approach.

Designing Useful and Usable Intelligent Interactive Systems

The next BostonCHI meeting is Designing Useful and Usable Intelligent Interactive Systems on Tue, Sep 19 at 6:00 PM.

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BostonCHI presents a hybrid talk by Krzysztof Gajos


My research is at the intersection of HCI and AI. I design, build and evaluate interactive systems that have some kind of machine intelligence under the hood. I strive to build intelligent interactive systems that are useful, that give people a meaningful sense of control, and whose behavior aligns with the mental models held by their users. This is challenging because the underlying AI technology can be occasionally wrong, it delivers the most value if it is allowed to act proactively at times, and it frequently behaves in unexpected ways.

In the past two decades, the intelligent interactive systems community has made substantial progress in producing useful design knowledge that addresses these challenges and machine intelligence is now present in many real-world interactive systems from nearly invisible (like predictive text helping with mobile text entry), to highly consequential (like AI-powered decision-support systems).

However, there are also some important gaps in our knowledge. In particular, my group has recently conducted a series of studies whose results indicate that some assumptions that I and my community have made along the way do not always hold. For example, adaptive user interfaces require more cognitive effort to operate than we had assumed, predictive text changes the content of what people write instead of just making text entry more efficient, and decision makers presented with AI-generated decision recommendations and explanations rarely engage cognitively with the content of what the AI communicates.

I will describe the studies that led to these insights and reflect on the current state of the knowledge pertaining to the design of usable intelligent interactive systems. I will then share some of our qualitative work on the clinical decision-making practices and, adopting a sociotechnical perspective, point out some unverified assumptions underlying the common choices of what (and whose) problems we solve with AI in clinical settings.

Overall, I believe that we can design useful and usable intelligent interactive systems but the relevant design knowledge is relatively knew and still a work in progress. The contemporary enthusiasm for using machine intelligence in interactive systems is an opportunity to grow our knowledge. It is also a danger in that it creates conditions where following the “best practices” of others, without having the time or opportunity to examine them, can turn unverified assumptions into fundamental principles of our field.

About Krzysztof Gajos

Krzysztof Gajos is a Gordon McKay professor of Computer Science at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Krzysztof’s current interests include 1. Principles and applications of intelligent interactive systems; 2. Tools and methods for behavioral research at scale (e.g.,; and 3. Design for equity and social justice. He has also made contributions in the areas of accessible computing, creativity support tools, social computing, and health informatics.

Krzysztof received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and his M.Eng. and B.Sc. degrees from MIT. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research at the Adaptive Systems and Interaction group. From 2013 to 2016 Krzysztof was a coeditor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems (ACM TiiS), he was the general chair of ACM UIST 2017, and he was a program co-chair of the 2022 ACM Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces. His work was recognized with a Sloan Fellowship and with best paper awards at ACM CHI, ACM COMPASS, and ACM IUI. In 2019, he received the Most Impactful Paper Award at ACM IUI for his work on automatically generating personalized user interfaces.


This is a hybrid event, to be held at Microsoft New England 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge MA, and online using Zoom. The Zoom link will be provided to registered attendees ahead of the event.

Notes: this event will not be recorded. If attending in person, please bring a government issued photo I.D. In-person registration will end 48 hours ahead of the event.

The Human Side of Tech