Chieko Asakawa

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Chieko Asakawa
Native name
浅川 智恵子
Born
Osaka, Japan
NationalityJapanese
EducationPh.D. engineering
Alma materUniversity of Tokyo
Awards
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science, Accessibility

Chieko Asakawa (浅川 智恵子, Asakawa Chieko) is a blind Japanese computer scientist, known for her work at IBM Research – Tokyo in accessibility.[1] A Netscape browser plug-in which she developed, the IBM Home Page Reader, became the most widely used web-to-speech system available.[2] She is the recipient of numerous industry and government awards.

Education and career[edit]

Asakawa was born with normal sight, but after she injured her optic nerve in a swimming accident at age 11, she began losing her sight, and by age 14 she was fully blind.[1] She earned a bachelor's degree in English literature at Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka in 1982 and then began a two-year computer programming course for blind people using an Optacon to translate print to tactile sensation. She joined IBM Research with a temporary position in 1984,[1] and became a permanent staff researcher there one year later.[1][3] In 2004 she earned a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Tokyo.[1]

Contributions[edit]

Asakawa's research projects have included developing a word processor for Braille documents, developing a digital library for Braille documents, developing a Netscape browser plug-in that converted text to speech and provided a more convenient web navigation mechanism for blind people, and developing a system that would allow sighted web designers to experience the web as blind people.[1][3][4] Her browser plugin became a 1997 IBM product, the IBM Home Page Reader,[4] and within five years it had become the most widely used web-to-speech system available.[2]

More recently her work has also studied accessible control of multimedia content,[5] technological and social changes that would allow elderly people to work for more years before retiring,[6][7] and the development of technology that would make the physical world more accessible to blind people.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

Asakawa was added to the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2003.[9] She became an IBM Fellow, IBM's top honor for its employees, in 2009, becoming the fifth Japanese person and first Japanese woman with that honor.[10] In 2011 the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology gave her their Women of Vision Award.[11][12] She was a keynote speaker at the Fourth International Conference on Software Development for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion (DSAIE 2012).[7] In 2013 the Japanese government awarded her their Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon.[3] A paper she wrote in 1998 with Takashi Itoh describing their work on web user interfaces for blind people was the winner of the 2013 ACM SIGACCESS Impact Award.[13] In 2017 she was elected as a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Strickland, Eliza (January 31, 2012), "Dream Jobs 2012: Web Guru for the Blind; IBM researcher Chieko Asakawa can't see your website, but she can make it better", IEEE Spectrum.
  2. ^ a b Waddell, Cynthia; Regan, Bob; Henry, Shawn Lawton; Burks, Michael R.; Thatcher, Jim; Urban, Mark D.; Bohman, Paul (2003), Constructing Accessible Web Sites, Apress, p. 58, ISBN 9781430211167.
  3. ^ a b c Sciacca, Chris (April 29, 2013), "IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa awarded Medal of Honor", IBM Research News, IBM Research.
  4. ^ a b Sawaji, Osamu (December 2011), "Yamato Nadeshiko: Pioneering Accessibility", Highlighting Japan, Public Relations Office, Government of Japan.
  5. ^ Weiss, Todd R. (April 2, 2007), "IBM Researcher Aims to Improve Web Access for Visually Impaired", Computerworld: 19.
  6. ^ Shah, Rawn (November 22, 2011), "In a Few Years Nations May Need Us to Work Years Past Retirement Age", Forbes.
  7. ^ a b "Keynote speakers", DSAI 2012, retrieved 2015-08-14.
  8. ^ Calabro, Tina (December 16, 2013), "Breaking Down Barriers: Creating a more disability-friendly city: Use of creative thinking and technology could spark new ways to improve accessibility", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  9. ^ "Featured Profile: Chieko Asakawa, Group Leader, IBM Tokyo, Accessibility Research, IBM", WITI Hall of Fame, Women in Technology International.
  10. ^ IBM researcher Chieko Asakawa awarded prestigious Fellow title, The Maininichi Newspapers, 2009.
  11. ^ Schultz, Morgon Mae (June 2011), "Without Sight, a Visionary Leader: Chieko Asakawa connects disabled users to the Web", IBM Systems Magazine.
  12. ^ Anita Borg Institute Announces 2011 Women of Vision Award Winners, Reuters, March 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Information Director (October 28, 2013), Chieko Asakawa and Takashi Itoh: 2013 Impact Award, SIGACCESS.
  14. ^ Dr. Chieko Asakawa, National Academy of Engineering, retrieved 2018-01-28

External links[edit]