By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

Attending the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS) in Rochester resulted in three great takeaways for international student researcher Natã Barbosa.

Barbosa enjoyed a satisfying academic experience interfacing with dozens of disability experts there. He received significant positive reinforcement for the disability app he helped develop over the past year. He also advanced to competition finals and won a second-place, silver-medal award and a $300 prize in the student research competition, in addition to a $500 travel grant from the conference. 

Natã returned to the U.S. from Brazil recently to present his research at the renowned student research competition. While attending the School of Information Studies (iSchool) last academic year, he created the technical architecture for an early-phase app focused on finding implementable strategies so those with disabilities can more easily log on to the Web and streamline their user experiences.

He worked with iSchool faculty members Yang Wang and Yun Huang on the project, as well as researchers from other institutions. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the project is titled the Disability Rehabilitation Research Project on Inclusive Cloud and Web Computing.

With travel costs from Brazil supported by the conference and the School, Barbosa was one of just eight undergraduate and graduate students selected to attend the conference. He first presented a poster about his research, “Strategies, An Inclusive Authentication Framework.” Selected as a finalist, he got the opportunity to tell the entire conference of accessibility experts about his work.

“I’m just happy that I participated. It was a very intensive learning experience, and very insightful for our research. It was very interactive; there was even more feedback than I expected,” Natã observed. Many conference attendees with extensive accessibility experience willingly offered him “feedback on things that they’ve tried and thought we could consider in our design to help make it perform better and to guide our work. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and very thankful for receiving help and feedback from our team and from Professor Wang on this,” the student added.

Given the hard work and creativity that Barbosa put into his efforts over a year’s time, Professor Wang was not surprised by Natã’s selection as a semi-finalist and ultimately, as  second-place winner. According to Wang, “This is a significant achievement; I am really glad that the larger accessible computing community recognized value in this research. In addition to Natã's award, we received great feedback at the conference and are in the process of incorporating that feedback into the authentication framework.”

Barbosa plans to keep working with the project remotely. He’s back in Brazil now, completing his undergraduate degree, working full-time, and making progress on his startup, 196sense. He developed that app, which provides personalized, real-time travel tips by travelers, for travelers, during his semester in the Syracuse Student Sandbox.