From Guatemala City to Alexandria, Egypt and now to Swansea for leading international HCI event

Today sees the conclusion of the high-profile SIGCHI Across Borders Meeting (held between 18-20th June), attended by delegates from 19 different countries, which was held at the university this week.

The ACM Special Interest Group in Computer Human Interaction (SIGCHI) is the world's largest association of academics and professionals who work in the research and practice of computer-human interaction. The SIGCHI Across Borders Initiative (SABI) is a SIGCHI effort to reach out to HCI people in places where HCI is still in its infancy.

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The conference was led by Dr Susan Dray, who has joined the Computational Foundry for a month-long residency of agenda-setting lectures, workshops and talks with her colleague Dr David Siegel.

Susan, SIGCHI’s Vice President at Large, recently led SABI symposia in Alexandria, Egypt, focusing on HCI in the Arabic-speaking world, and in Guatemala City, focusing on Spanish-speaking Central and South America, and we are honoured that she has chosen Swansea University as the venue for the latest meeting.

Dr Dray comments: “Through this conference, we are focused are thinking of ideas about how to make human-centered designs work from delegates in the ‘Global South’, and finding mutual solutions. This involves networking, identifying common problems they face in their work, and challenges they may have trying to collaborate effectively with those in the ‘Global North’.

A world-leading expert in User Experience, Susan’s motto is ‘If the user can’t use it, it doesn’t work’ and her goal, as she puts it, is to make technology “usable by normal people and not just geeks.” With this ethos, these SIGCHI conferences have gained an international reputation for working to remove barriers between the ‘Global South’ of developing countries and the ‘Global North’.

Susan comments: “SIGCHI has begun to focus on practical ways to make human-centered designs work in resource constrained countries. For this to happen, we need to understand the challenges that academics, researchers, and practitioners in industry face - and empower them to go back to their home communities and identify projects, especially those that link research to industry.  We also need to recognize the many things that the Global North can benefit and learn from the Global South.”

Matt Jones, Head of the College of Science, comments: "I am very proud of The Across Borders meetings that see Swansea host a group of participants from wide and diverse geographical locations: digital innovation, especially at this time, needs as many hands, hearts and perspectives as possible to ensure it increasingly becomes a force for good."