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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

April 8, 2015

Speaker: Professor Cosmin Munteanu, University of Toronto Mississauga

Title: Breaking the barriers of conventional interfaces: natural interactions with assistive technologies

Abstract: Humans' natural abilities have allowed us to interact with the surrounding environment in complex ways, from easily manipulating physical objects to communicating with others through speech. Yet when we interact with many digital technologies, we largely do so by ceding direct control and instead employing (digital) proxies. For marginalized user groups, such interactions may present insurmountable barriers that only widen our information-centric society's digital divide. While speech and multimodal interaction are often challenging computationally, I have shown in my research that, despite their inherent lack of accuracy, they can empower the users and allow them to interact in almost material ways with digital artefacts. This has the potential to make assistive technologies more interactive and more adoptable by their users. In this talk, I will briefly discuss how speech processing, despite its inherent limitations, can be used to enhance current interaction paradigms. I will then argue that such natural interactions can enable humans to break the barriers of conventional interfaces and be particularly useful in improving marginalized users' interaction with assistive technologies. To support this, I will present several examples of multimodal assistive technologies that support older adults and low-literacy adults in their daily lives.