PhD student (f/m/d) in Human-Computer Interaction and Accessibility

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
January 24, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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Organizational unit

Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics (IAR)

Job description

The research group “Human-Computer Interaction and Accessibility” explores digital accessibility with focus on novel and assistive technologies that can be leveraged by disabled people and thereby contribute to quality of life. From a technical perspective, the research focus lies on interactive, sensor- based and wearable systems that are closely intertwined with users' bodies. Central to the research of the group is the question how such systems can be designed in a way that supports experiential accessibility – accessibility that strives for equitable experiences, extends beyond the removal of barriers, and seeks to provide positive and enriching user experiences.

Research on accessibility of the built environment within the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research community frequently focuses on the reduction of immediate access barriers. Particularly with respect to urban spaces, much of our work develops interactive tools to support disabled people when navigating barriers. While this kind of work has made important contributions to the accessibility of the built environment, it is focusing on the present – i.e., the status quo – in the sense that it engages with current access barriers in the real world, rather than asking what a more accessible world could look like if it were to be imagined from scratch.

To expand our view on technical accessibility research, the proposed PhD project will leverage future-looking methods including speculative design to work with disabled people in imagining what shape more inclusive futures should take, and to explore what and whether current and future technologies would be required to make these speculations a reality.

More concretely, the PhD research could entail the following aspects:

  • Designing and carrying out workshops with and for disabled people with a focus on accessibility in the aforementioned areas, examining the role that technology could and should play.
  • Developing low-fidelity prototypes for exploration in the context of user studies and further foundation for speculation, for example, Wizard-of-Oz studies, speculative enactments, or field studies using more functional prototypes.
  • Examining, adjusting and reflecting on the accessibility of hands-on design workshops and speculative methods for disabled people.
  • Starting date

    as soon as possible

    Personal qualification

    Suitable candidates will have previous experience and/or an interest in the following:

  • A background in Human-Computer Interaction or a related discipline. This should ideally entail basic programming skills in a language of your choice, an interest in designing system prototypes, and some experience in empirical work.
  • Willingness to engage with relevant theoretical frameworks and literature in critical disability studies, and to interrogate and examine your own positionality, biases, and experiences.
  • An interest in working with people, for example, in the context of design sessions, or as part of evaluation studies.
  • Working command of the English language. Knowing German is no firm requirement, but would be helpful when working with stakeholders not part of the university.
  • Showing kindness toward yourself, your colleagues, and the people involved in the research.
  • Salary

    Salary category EG 13, depending on the fulfillment of professional and personal requirements.

    Contract duration

    limited for four years

    Application up to

    December 31, 2022

    Contact person in line-management

    For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Kathrin Gerling, email:


    Please send your CV, a copy of your MSc transcripts (can be preliminary), a letter of motivation and names of two referees to:, subject: “PhD Application Speculative Design”. Please send all documents in PDF format.

    vacancy number: 2309/2022

    We prefer to balance the number of employees (f/m/d). Therefore, we kindly ask female applicants to apply for this job.

    Recognized severely disabled persons will be preferred if they are equally qualified.

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