Keep on Dancing

[This is cross-posted on our Dance Craft website]

I made the trek across campus today to meet with Professor Andrew Palermo in UC Irvine’s Dance Department. I briefly pitched him our idea and explained what we could do with the Kinect. We talked about the dance classes he teaches at the local autism center. His classes consist of one part neurotypical dance class, one part partner dancing tailored to kids with autism, and one part dance routine. The dance routine is a composition of steps created by each person in the class. After our discussion, I am more excited than ever to move forward with our Dance Craft application for Kinect.

For our prototype that we will be demonstrating for the Autism AppJam, we will be creating an application that will encourage creative movement in the player/user. We will be focusing on something that can be used at home, outside of the dance class, to bring the creative motion out of the classroom and into the daily lives of the children. The great thing about this software is that set up and use will be fairly inexpensive for the typical. All that is needed is a computer to run the program, a Kinect, and a monitor/television.

I will leave you with a video of the inspiration behind Professor Palermo’s dance classes- a choreography called beyond.words:

Minecraft Study Blog Week 1

My intention with these blog posts is to have a sort of informal record of my time spent in Autcraft. They will be my beginnings, in a way, of creating my overall narrative of my experience. I will be creating much more formal documentation in the form of conference papers and journal articles, but here I want to create a space that is more open to dialogue and discussion. I also want the community to know that I am completely open and willing to share my thoughts and findings as much as I want to hear the thoughts of those in the community. My hope is to be able to tell the story of Autcraft and to be able to, through technology, expand on what it has given the autism community if I can.

My first week in the Autcraft community has been an extremely humbling experience. As I made my first timid steps into the unknown, I was greeted with open arms. A good number of people have given me encouragement, offered to help, welcomed me and offered friendship, and thanked me. I feel like I should be the one thanking every single member of the Autcraft community for allowing me to be among them.

I feel like I have accomplished a lot in the few hours I have played over the last week: I’ve built a modest office, explored many different areas, gone mining, died in lava, played Hide and Seek with other players, marveled at all the amazing things other players have built, played Paint Ball with other players, and died falling from a giant pink pony. All and all, a very busy, but successful week.

a pink pony statue in minecraft
Fell off from the top of a giant pink pony and died. Admittedly a first for me.

I have been struck by the many different ways in which players communicate in Autcraft. There is text chat, but there is so much more. Players also communicate via their characters (how they look and through their movements), via their constructions, via signs littered throughout the world, and more. I am sure those that have a limited understanding of autism would be very surprised to hear that these players are communicating at all. And while I am still in the very early stages of my research, I can assure anyone reading this that these players are communicating- in a varied and rich format.

I will close with that for this week. Please stay tuned and feel free to email me at kringlan [at] uci [dot] edu with any questions about my work. Thanks and keep on building!

Autism App Jam 2014 – DanceCraft


I am participating in this year’s Autism App Jam on team DanceCraft. Find out more on my team’s website:

EAPSI 2014

cloth fish flying in hiroshima
At the Hiroshima Flower Festival 2013. Photo Credit: Severn Ringland.

In the fall of 2013, I applied for the NSF’s East Asia Summer Institute Program and was accepted February 3, 2014. The abstract to my proposal:

While there are a variety of available Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices available for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States, these devices are infrequently found for users in Japan especially in their native language. A culturally appropriate AAC system for use with Japanese children will be designed using participatory design workshops with stakeholders from Hiroshima University. During this project she will come to better understand the process of designing assistive technology as it occurs between local stakeholders in Japan and American researchers and to create a framework to help facilitate this kind of work in the future.

Click here for a full version of my proposal.

Last Updated: April 3, 2014

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Minecraft Study

Screen shot of sunset and a volcano in Minecraft
Sunset and a volcano in Minecraft


My name is KateRingland and I am a PhD student in Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. I will be conducting observations of players in Minecraft. For the most part, this will just look like I’m playing the game like everyone else. However, I will be taking notes of my experiences and possibly screen shots. I will not be recording any identifiable information. I will not record any real names or real screen names. If I take a screen shot, I will blur out anything that would identify an individual player.

What are you looking for during your observations? I am mostly just watching to see how players on Minecraft interact. I would also like to explore the various ways in which players communicate during game play. I am hoping this research leads to helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a supportive, fun environment to play in.

I am now conducting interviews! Find out more information HERE.

Please email me at kringlan [at] uci [dot] edu if you have any questions.


Our first paper from this project is published at Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW) 2015, titled ‘Making “Safe”: Community Centered Practices in a Virtual World Dedicated to Children with Autism’.

Last Updated: June 1, 2015.

Clothing Tags for Individuals with Visual Impairments

Kate at UMBC SURF Poster Session
August 8, 2012. UMBC SURF Poster Session

Self expression through clothing is inherently visual and is not readily accessible to those with visual impairments. Presently, the best method for conveying information is with high-tech devices that identify fabric colors, but don’t give information about pattern, graphics, washing instructions, or style. Designing clothing tags for the visually impaired user requires that the tags be discreet, comfortable, easy to locate, and that it be reasonably simple to retrieve information from them. With this study we contribute a collection of tagging systems that can be used in future research for the development and testing of fully functional tagging systems that will empower visually impaired users when making clothing decisions.

Ringland, Kathryn. “Accessible Clothing Tags: Designing for Individuals with Visual Impairments”.CHI 2013. Paris, France. May 2013.*

Williams, M., Ringland, K., Hurst, A. “Designing an Accessible Clothing Tag System for People with Visual Impairments”. ASSETS 2013. Bellevue, WA. October 2013.*

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Many children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, have sensory processing disorders (SPD), which can lead to inappropriate behaviors and impairments. One therapeutic approach to the kinds of SPD frequently observed in children with neurodevelopmental disorders involves the use of a variety of tools including objects with various textures and tactile sensations, mirrors, and Multisensory Environments (MSE) saturated with visual and audible stimuli and specialized equipment for sensory stimulation. However, children with SPD each have a unique prescription for the amount of stimulation they require for the therapy to be effective. MSE must be physically altered before each child receives therapy.

Traditional Multisensory Environments uses mirrors, lights, and objects with different tactile feedback.
Colored rubber balls of different sizes.
Various sizes and colors of balls used in SensoryPaint.

SensoryPaint is an interactive surface with the capability of superimposing the user’s reflection on a projected surface and “painting” this surface with balls of different textures and colors, which was designed to augment traditional therapies. This software uses a Kinect to detect the movements of the user and the balls. The user’s image is reflected on the screen, as well as their shadow superimposed on their reflection. SensoryPaint is a software originally developed at CICESE in Ensenada, Mexico.

Mode with painting and splashes.
Coloring Book Mode with the user using two different colors to fill in the strawberry shape.

Initial studies of the SensoryPaint system are focused on uncovering the potential of this technology to support sensory integration, including stimulus sensitivity, body awareness, motor functioning, and attention and engagement.

Ringland, K.E., Zalapa, R., Neal, M., Escobedo, L., Tentori, M., and Hayes, G.R. “SensoryPaint: A Multimodal Sensory Intervention for Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders”. Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, ACM (2014).

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Winter Update, Grad School News

Hello! Here’s just a quick update from me. The first 6 months of my graduate school experience has just flown by. I’m now in my second week of winter quarter. Phew!

First, I want to just make an observation about my experience so far before I get into the news segment of this post. I have had moments of sheer anxiety and insecurity, but those seem to be balanced out with moments of happy triumph. An email I received recently really sums up why there is this oscillation of confidence. The contents of the email were along the lines of “You have a really awesome idea, I’m impressed with you. Why aren’t you talking more in class? You should sit in the front row.” And this is what grad school is all about: small moments of celebration followed by many moments of pushing you to the next level. I’m learning to treasure my little celebrations and embrace all the criticism because it’s going to make me a much stronger person in the long run.

Talking more in class discussion? I’ll save that subject for a different blog post.

Onto the news!

My team submitted a project to the iConference Social Media Expo competition and made it to the final round. We will be flying to Berlin the first week of March to present our work. My favorite part of the project was editing together the video for it. You can see the video and read our abstract on my portfolio page.

I also presented my poster at ASSETS 2013 in October for work I did on the Clothing Tagging Systems for the Visually Impaired. While I probably won’t be doing further work on this project, I got a lot of valuable feedback. The experience I gained from this project has influenced much of the work I am currently doing and will be doing in the future.

I have a couple more projects in the works that I’m excited to share with everyone when they are a little further along. Stay tuned!

Competitive Edge 2013, Week 3- Figuring this Whole Grad School Thing Out

As I slowly settle into the area, a lot of exciting things are happening with my summer project. The biggest excitement being I actually picked a research project. I’ll give you a hint: it’s something to do with this cool system called SensoryPaint. Now comes the fun/hard part where I actually have to get all the work done!

This last week I visited the Autism Center that is affiliated with our school. I heard a great lecture on another project called MOSOCO. I met some fantastic folks and I’m slowly but surely getting oriented with my landscape.

I also went to a housewarming party out in Long Beach. I hadn’t been there (at least as far as I can remember) and it was cool to see a different area for a bit. I’ve been pretty limited in my range of movement here in Irvine. I have been spending most of my time between my apartment and the campus and haven’t explored much beyond that. I am feeling like this is okay though, because there is lots of time in the future for more exploration. I will admit though, there is a yarn shop about 10 minutes’ drive from my place that I am very tempted to go check out.

Now I will discuss my Week 3 takeaway message: Grad school is a very socially intensive environment. If you are anything like me and are used to just chilling in front of your computer getting your work done, minding your own business, then grad school is going to be a shock. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a little social with friends and outings. But I am not used to be “on” all the time. It’s very exhausting. Everyone you meet is potentially an important future resource or contact. As a brand new student, you feel the overwhelming need to impress everyone or at least try not to fall flat on your face where possible. So, on top of trying to figure out projects, apply to fellowships, learn a whole new town, there is the stress of being a happy, easy going personality.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually enjoying the entire process. I actually don’t mind this kind of stress too much and I’m loving all my lab mates- they are awesome, helpful people (we even all go to the gym together). I feel really lucky in a lot of ways. But I do have to remember to allow myself downtime and “off” days where I can relax.

I just mention all this because I was not warned. I think that if I had someone giving me advice and information about grad school, I would have liked to know about this. It wouldn’t have deterred me, but I possibly could have been a little more prepared.

This coming week is going to be hard. I am planning out my summer project, working on the IRB form (more on that later), presenting my project to the group, and also planning a proposal for NSF GRFP for Competitive Edge. Even if I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed, I’m actually in a really happy place. I’m doing what I want to be doing and, more than anything else, I am feeling fortunate to be here.

Getting Started, Competitive Edge 2013

This summer I am participating in a program at the University of California, Irvine called Competitive Edge. The aims of the program are to give minority (and women) incoming graduate students a “competitive edge” on their Ph.D. programs.

After a successful drive from Washington down to southern California, we settled into our new home in campus housing adjacent to the UCI campus. One benefit of the Competitive Edge program is the early move in for the student housing. We had a couple days to acclimate before I started my program. This was spent mostly setting up house and trying to get used (mostly unsuccessfully thus far) to the heat.

A highway going through dry land.
Road to Irvine, CA.

The first day of the program was orientation, including a campus tour, luncheon, and a ropes course. Yes, a ropes course. Most of the folks back home would probably have a hard time imagining me up on a ropes course because, honestly, heights really aren’t my thing. But it happened. And I even did the zipline at the end.

Competitive Edge Students gathered near the ropes course.
Competitive Edge Students gathered near the ropes course.
Group of students at ropes course.
Competitive Edge Students after the ropes course.

Each week, the Competitive Edge will be holding workshops to help us make the most of our grad school experience. So far, I have attended workshops on Research Resources, various informational sessions on the types of fellowships available, a workshop on the Ford Foundation fellowship, and a session outlining the NSF GRFP. From here on out, the workshops get more specific into the application process. We will be getting feedback on our essays, proposals, CVs, and even on how we give presentations. At the end of the program, on August 15, we will each be giving a 10 minute presentation on our research at the Research Symposium. All in all, this program is definitely designed to make us much stronger graduate students.

The rest of the week I get time to do research in my own lab. I am a member of the Star Group in LUCI. I will be working on researching assistive technology for those with Autism. This past couple weeks, I have been doing background reading and getting settled in the lab. I will be working with a great group of people in my lab (everyone is really friendly and more than willing to collaborate) and I’m excited to really start working.