TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Katta Spiel Wins ERC Starting Grant

  • 2023-09-05
  • Award
  • Research

With their project ACCESSTECH, Katta Spiel revolutionizes how we approach accessibility in the digital age.

Katta Spiel Wins ERC Starting Grant
Picture: Oliver Suchanek / Design: TU Wien Informatics

Most tech solutions are not tailored for diverse users. Whereas Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as a field has paved the way to a multidisciplinary understanding of humans and interactive computing systems, a majority of research questions within HCI have been steered by non-disabled researchers. Consequently, while many technologies cater to the functional needs of the disabled community, they often miss the mark in understanding the nuanced lived experiences. Such a misalignment can lead to the creation of technological solutions that, though functional, may be perceived as undesirable, unwanted, or even harmful by disabled communities.

Katta Spiel’s ACCESSTECH project revolutionizes the way we approach accessibility in the digital age. Moving beyond just functionality, this research endeavor seeks to discern and create technologies that resonate deeply with the lived experiences of the disabled community, ensuring not just usability but genuine desirability.

ACCESSTECH applies “Participatory Research through Design.” Katta Spiel lays the groundwork by identifying what’s crucial to making tech tools that genuinely benefit those with disabilities. They’re focusing on tailoring these tools in harmony with the real-world needs and wishes of the disabled community by examining various technologies to discern which ones offer the most inclusive experience for diverse users. In essence, ACCESSTECH is not just about creating usable tools but about shifting our entire perspective on technology and disability – for a digital realm that truly welcomes everyone.

About Katta Spiel

Katta Spiel is an Assistant Professor for Critical Access in Embodied Computing at TU Wien Informatics. They research marginalized perspectives on embodied computing through a lens of Critical Access. Their work informs design and engineering supporting the development of technologies that account for the diverse realities they operate in. In their interdisciplinary collaborations with neurodivergent and/or nonbinary peers, they conduct explorations of novel potentials for designs, methodologies, and innovative technological artifacts. They received their PhD in 2018 from TU Wien and after a year at KU Leuven, they conducted postdoctoral work as an FWF-Hertha Firnberg Scholar, also at TU Wien. Their work has received several international and national awards, including the SICGHI 2020 Outstanding Dissertation Award as well as the Förderungspreis der Stadt Wien in der Sparte Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaft, Technik in 2022.

About the ERC Starting Grant

ERC Starting Grants are prestigious research grants offered by the European Research Council (ERC) to outstanding early-career researchers who have demonstrated exceptional potential in their respective fields. The grants provide funding for up to five years to enable scientists to conduct cutting-edge research and establish independent research teams. The ERC Starting Grants aim to support innovative and high-risk research that has the potential to make a significant impact on scientific understanding, knowledge, and technology. The grants are highly competitive, and applicants must have a track record of significant research achievements to be considered.

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