About Me

Avery is a final year Ph.D. student studying computer science at the University of Washington in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering advised by Dr. Jennifer Mankoff. They earned their Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their current work focuses on 1) representation of people with disabilities in digital technologies like avatars and generative AI tools, and 2) how to support people with fluctuating access needs like neurodiverse people and people with chronic or mental health conditions. They are currently on the job market.

kmack3 [at] uw [dot] edu

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)


  • I'm officially on the job market! I'm looking for industry positions, primarily research scientist positions but will consider UX/UXR positions that are a great fit.


Disability Representation in Text-to-Image AI

Summary Blog Post | Publication

two avatars, one using a cane, one using a wheelchair

In this work, we investigated disability representation in images output from text-to-image (T2I) generative AI systems. Through eight focus groups with 25 people with disabilities, we found that models repeatedly presented reductive archetypes for different disabilities. Often these representations reflected broader societal stereo- types and biases, which our participants were concerned to see reproduced through T2I. Our participants discussed further challenges with using these models including the current reliance on prompt engineering to reach satisfactorily diverse results. Finally, they offered suggestions for how to improve disability representation with solutions like showing multiple, heterogeneous images for a single prompt and including the prompt with images generated. Our discussion reflects on tensions and tradeoffs we found among the diverse perspectives shared to inform future research on representation-oriented generative AI system evaluation metrics and development processes.

Towards Inclusive Avatars: Disability Representation in Avatar Platforms

Summary Blog Post | Publication

two avatars, one using a cane, one using a wheelchair

Digital avatars are an important part of identity representation, but there is little work on understanding how to represent disability. In our study, participants generally preferred to represent their disability identity if the context felt safe and platforms supported their expression, as it was important for feeling authentically represented. They also utilized avatars in strategic ways: as a means to signal and disclose current abilities, access needs, and to raise awareness. Some participants even found avatars to be a more accessible way to communicate than alternatives. We discuss how avatars can support disability identity representation because of their easily customizable format that is not strictly tied to reality. We suggest design recommendations for creating platforms that better support people in representing their disability and other minoritized identities.

Designing Tools for High-Quality Alt Text Authoring

Blog Post | Publication

a screenshot of the PowerPoint alt text editing pane

Alternative (alt) text is a description of a digital images so that someone who is blind or low vision or otherwise uses a screen reader to understand image content. Little work examines what it is like to write alt text for an image. We created interface designs to support writing and providing feedback about alt text and tested them with people who write alt text and people who use alt text. Our results suggest that authoring interfaces that support authors in choosing what to include in their descriptions result in higher quality alt text. The feedback interfaces highlighted considerable diferences in the perceptions of authors and SRUs regarding “high-quality” alt text. We discuss the implications of these results on applications that support alt text.

Mixed Abilities and Varied Experiences: a group autoethnography of a virtual summer internship

Blog Post | Publication

a person signing into a computer where there are two other people signing on a video call

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to convert their daily work lives to a “virtual” format where everyone connected remotely from their home, which affected the accessibility of work environments. We the authors, full time and intern members of an accessibility-focused team at Microsoft Research, reflect on our virtual work experiences as a team consisting of members with a variety of abilities, positions, and seniority during the summer intern season. We reflect on our summer experiences, noting the successful strategies we used to promote access and the areas in which we could have further improved access.

What Do We Mean by "Accessibility Research"?

Blog Post | Publication

a screenshot of a graph showing the number of accessibility papers published over time

Accessibility research has grown substantially in the past few decades, yet there has been no literature review of the field. To understand current and historical trends, we created and analyzed a dataset of accessibility papers appearing at CHI and ASSETS since ASSETS’ founding in 1994. Our findings highlight areas that have received disproportionate attention and those that are underserved— for example, over 43% of papers in the past 10 years are on accessibility for blind and low vision people. We also capture common study characteristics, such as the roles of disabled and nondisabled participants as well as sample sizes (e.g., a median of 13 for participant groups with disabilities and older adults). We close by critically reflecting on gaps in the literature and offering guidance for future work in the field.

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* Indicates that both authors contributed equally to this work

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