UMETA

The 1st workshop on User Modeling for Enabling Technology (UMETA) is held on June 14th, 2013, in Rome (Italy) in conjunction with the 21st Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization (UMAP 2013).

UMETA 2013 is a half day workshop showcasing innovative user modeling research that focuses on improving the quality of life of people with functional diversity -including (but not limited to) people diagnosed as disabled and the elderly.

UMETA follows successful UMAP workshops focusing on research in the same problem space. These include UMADR 2010 and UMADR 2011 and the TUMAS-A workshop series, such as TUMAS-A 2007 (which was hosted by User Modelling 2007) and TUMAS-A 2011 as part of PALE 2011 at UMAP 2011.

Motivation

Assistive and associated technologies can be one of the great levellers, allowing individuals to engage with services that would have been impossible a decade ago. Unfortunately, technical research in human-computer interaction tends toward treating users with diverse functional abilities as a potential use case for any and all technologies developed, but only in the very long term. There is a clear and present need to connect the more theoretical work in user modeling with the more grounded needs of care-practitioners and manufactures. UMETA bridges this gap with a program designed to promote research that is timely, innovative, and focused on the needs of users.

User modeling for assistive technologies poses challenges that while not unique, are particularly striking.

Users of assistive technology vary in terms of age, walks of life, usage context as well as in terms of abilities. One user of augmentative and assistive communication devices may, for example, require support for physical functional diversity, another for their range of cognitive abilities, and a third for pragmatics of conversation (as is the case with autism). Similarly, within a given category of ability the range can be rather big. For example, users with visual impairments vary in terms of the degree of functional vision they have. Furthermore, abilities are not static and may vary with the user’s situation or the degree of fatigue. Assistive technology may also be targeted at supporting a user in several ways, e.g. giving support for motor as well as cognitive functional diversity.

Another set of challenges in user modelling for assistive technology concerns evaluation methods. These are systems that have a clear evaluation criterion - making life simpler for the end user. Yet these systems are particularly hard to evaluate. There may only be a few users with a particular profile, these evaluations are reasonably resource intense, or it may be hard to accurately and fairly elicit a critical response from the users.

Finally, while privacy and trust are important in any adaptive system, they are key when vulnerable users are concerned. Therefore, this workshop also encourages papers discussing human factors in assistive technology.