New Co-PI Profile: Stacy Branham
Stacy Branham is an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she dedicates her research, teaching, and service activities to advancing social inclusion of people with disabilities through technology innovation. She has been an AccessComputing Partner since 2019, and, in 2021, she joined the AccessComputing leadership team to oversee new initiatives that strengthen the pipeline from postsecondary school to industrial careers for our students with disabilities.
As a researcher, Stacy contributes to the fields of human-computer interaction and accessible computing, investigating how technologies mediate social inclusion in settings where one or more people has a disability, often specifically a vision-related disability. Drawing primarily on qualitative and design research methods, her research documents the crucial role of social interdependency in technology design and engages people with disabilities in co-developing novel technologies, yielding actionable guidance and prototypes. Her work has been recognized by four Best Paper Awards and it has been supported by over $15,000,000 in external funding from non-profits, technology companies, and government agencies. She is a recent recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award in support of early-career faculty. In 2021, she was recognized by Popular Science as one of their “Brilliant 10,” or “the most innovative up-and-coming minds in science.”
As an educator, Stacy seeks to create inclusive spaces where students learn accessibility skills that will enhance our world. She uses evidence-based pedagogical techniques––active learning, team-based learning, service learning––to develop next-generation technologists who not only study, design, and build technology, but who also critically engage with social, political, and ethical implications of their work. In 2017, Stacy was recognized for her work with underrepresented students in computing as an Honor Roll Member for the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award, and in Spring 2022, she will be presented UCI’s first Celebration of Teaching Award for Digital Accessibility Innovator, to recognize her efforts to make technology classes both accessible and accessibility-focused. In her research lab, she recruits students from AccessComputing and UCI’s Disability Services Center to ensure that people with disabilities and other marginalized identities continue to be the subjects, not the objects, of technology innovation.
As a volunteer in her community, in her field, and at her University, Stacy leverages her expertise in accessible computing to have high impact. In the greater Orange County region, between 2020 and 2021, her research group provided more than 200,000 minutes of free, unlimited AIRA access to support over 450 blind community members with pandemic-related struggles. In her research field, she serves on the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Special Interest Group for Human-Computer Interaction Executive Committee (SIGCHI EC), as the Adjunct Chair for Accessibility. Since joining the committee in 2020, she has played an integral role in establishing the Accessibility Committee, a group of 14 experts who assess the status of accessibility and develop new policies to make the research community inclusive of people with disabilities. At UCI, Stacy is an active member of both the campus-level IT Accessibility Committee and the Physical Accessibility Committee, which develop policies and practices to ensure that the university’s information technology and physical campus infrastructures can be equitably accessed by people with disabilities.
When asked what drives her work, Stacy shared: “I have an invisible disability, and I identify as a woman in computing. My experiences in this regard drive all aspects of the work I do. I appreciate AccessComputing’s approach to including people with disabilities at all levels of the organization, and I look forward to working with our partners to place our students with disabilities in high-impact computing careers.”