Note: view full syllabus on Google Drive

PSAM 5550 F; CRN 4625
Fall 2013

W 12:10pm – 2:50pm
ROOM 1202, 6 E. 16th STREET

Katherine Moriwaki
Office Hours: M/F 2pm – 5pm, by appointment
(contact Zoe Ward to schedule:
Location: 6 E 16th St. 12th Floor, Room 1210

Met Museum Contacts:
– Don Undeen, Manager Media Lab, Metropolitan Museum of Art
– Rebecca McGinnis
Hashtag: #MetParsons


Course Description

In partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, this class will explore how assistive technologies can enhance the museum experience for visitors with disabilities. Students will learn from active museum-goers with physical, sensory, or cognitive limitations, who will share the challenges they face as they engage with the Met’s collection and communicate with other visitors. Museum staff will share their current efforts toward accessibility in support of the mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is to stimulate appreciation for, and to advance knowledge of the world’s artistic heritage, to the widest audience possible. Students will then work closely with the Met and active museum-goers to develop and build experimental open-source projects that address those challenges, and serve that mission. Experts from the assistive technology industry will visit at points throughout the course, sharing cutting-edge tools and current thinking about best practices for accessibility. Students will be encouraged to think beyond current practice, imagining a museum of the future where all visitors are enabled to actively engage with and connect to art in their own lives. During development, students will have the opportunity to test their work in the museum space, and consult with museum staff. At the conclusion of the semester, final projects will be presented to a range of museum staff and volunteer visitors for evaluation and conversation.

Learning Outcomes

By the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Exposure to the needs of people with disabilities in a sensory-rich environment

2. Human-Computer Interaction design patterns for accessibility

3. Experience with physical computing and electronics

4. Knowledge of physical and psychological affordances and their impact on design

5. Exposure to cutting-edge accessibility technologies

6. Art museum practices, goals, and requirements


Course Requirements/Graded Activities

User Research

Due: September 25, 2013

Description: Students will create in groups user personas based on information gathered from research and advisor panels in the first weeks of class.  Personas may be created in any medium, but must be accessible and posted online. User research should be organized, structured, and contain both project precedents and academic references. At least one site visit to the Met outside of class time is required for this assignment. . Evidence of site visit must be included in documentation of work. Communication or meeting with advisors is optional. Outside communication with accessibility advisors is optional, but encouraged.

Project Pitch
Date:  October 2nd

Description: Students will present initial ideas for their project in groups. Pitches need to include a scenario of the user experience proposed. Scenarios can be created in any medium, but must be accessible and posted online.

In-class activity: Desk Critique

Dates: October 9th, 23rd, & November 13, 2013

Description: Students will engage in an informal “desk critique” in which the instructor and Met Museum staff will move amongst groups providing feedback during an in-class working session.

Interim Presentations:

Dates: October16th, November 6th

Description: Presentations intended to update the instructor, Met Museum staff, and peers as to the progress of their projects. Emphasis is on external delivery of progress and understanding of design process.

Demo Days:

Dates: October 30th, November 20th

Description: Demo sessions where working prototypes are set up for experimentation and critique. Emphasis is on peer exchange.


Project Documentation:

Due: December 4th

Description: Draft versions of 2 Page Extended abstract, poster, and other presentation materials to be presented at the final Met installation.

Final Presentation

Date: December 11th

Description: Final in-class presentation before Met Museum event.

Met Museum Installation

Date: December 14th

Description: Public installation of projects at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Location: Sacerdote,  Setup: 9am – 11am, Public Event: 11am – 2pm, Breakdown: 2pm – 4pm.


Final Grade Calculation

Participation /Attendance 10%

User Research 10%

Interim presentations 10%

Demo days 10%

Desk critiques 15%

Final project 45%

TOTAL 100%

 Course Readings and Materials: TBA

Course Advisors and Industry Partners:

Emmanuel Von Schack, Alba Simoza, Linn Jacobson, Constance Von Rolleghem, Don Katz, Dana Simon

Our collaboration studio advisors are individuals with cognitive or physical limitations or caregivers of individuals with cognitive or physical limitations recruited by the Met Museum who share their experiences and challenges experiencing and appreciating art.

Industry Partners:

CaptionMax, Adam Krass, Richard Ellenson, Steve Landau : TouchGraphics, Mark Surabian, Karen Gorman, Sean O-Shea, Karen Gourgey, Larry Goldberg, Josh Miele, Alan Bright

Industry partners are companies and individuals involved in the accessibility field. Industry partners provide insight into designing for and working with our target audience.

Materials Budget


There is a limited materials budget for the course, supplied primarily by the Met. Any re-usable equipment, software, or hardware purchased by the Met for use in the class will be returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the end of the semester. MFADT has many smaller electronic components and parts already on hand in the Physical Computing Lab and in the instructor’s red storage cabinet.


The university provides many resources to help students achieve academic and artistic excellence.  These resources include:

  • The University (and associated) Libraries:

  • The University Learning Center:

  • University Disabilities Services: ttp:// .  In keeping with the university’s policy of providing equal access for students with disabilities, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations is welcome to meet with me privately. All conversations will be kept confidential. Students requesting any accommodations will also need to contact Student Disability Service (SDS). SDS will conduct an intake and, if appropriate, the Director will provide an academic accommodation notification letter for you to bring to me. At that point, I will review the letter with you and discuss these accommodations in relation to this course.

University, Divisional/School, and Program Policies


Academic Honesty and Integrity

Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including (but not limited to) one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course, academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the university.

University Policy

The New School views “academic honesty and integrity” as the duty of every member of an academic community to claim authorship for his or her own work and only for that work, and to recognize the contributions of others accurately and completely. This obligation is fundamental to the integrity of intellectual debate, and creative and academic pursuits. Academic honesty and integrity includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others (including that of faculty members and other students). Academic dishonesty results from infractions of this “accurate use”. The standards of academic honesty and integrity, and citation of sources, apply to all forms of academic work, including submissions of drafts of final papers or projects. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in accord with the standards of academic honesty and integrity.

Students are responsible for understanding the University’s policy on academic honesty and integrity and must make use of proper citations of sources for writing papers, creating, presenting, and performing their work, taking examinations, and doing research. It is the responsibility of students to learn the procedures specific to their discipline for correctly and appropriately differentiating their own work from that of others. Individual divisions/programs may require their students to sign an Academic Integrity Statement declaring that they understand and agree to comply with this policy.

The New School recognizes that the different nature of work across the schools of the University may require different procedures for citing sources and referring to the work of others.  Particular academic procedures, however, are based in universal principles valid in all schools of The New School and institutions of higher education in general.  This policy is not intended to interfere with the exercise of academic freedom and artistic expression.

Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to:

  • cheating on examinations, either by copying another student’s work or by utilizing unauthorized materials

  • using work of others as one’s own original work and submitting such work to the university or to scholarly journals, magazines, or similar publications

  • submission of another students’ work obtained by theft or purchase as one’s own original work

  • submission of work downloaded from paid or unpaid sources on the internet as one’s own original work, or including the information in a submitted work without proper citation

  • submitting the same work for more than one course without the knowledge and explicit approval of all of the faculty members involved

  • destruction or defacement of the work of others

  • aiding or abetting any act of academic dishonesty

  • any attempt to gain academic advantage by presenting misleading information, making deceptive statements or falsifying documents, including documents related to internships

  • engaging in other forms of academic misconduct that violate principles of integrity

(This is an abridged version of the policy. For the full policy text, which includes adjudication procedures, visit: )

Guidelines for Studio Assignments

Work from other visual sources may be imitated or incorporated into studio work if the fact of imitation or incorporation and the identity of the original source are properly acknowledged. There must be no intent to deceive; the work must make clear that it emulates or comments on the source as a source. Referencing a style or concept in otherwise original work does not constitute plagiarism. The originality of studio work that presents itself as “in the manner of” or as playing with “variations on” a particular source should be evaluated by the individual faculty member in the context of a critique. Incorporating ready-made materials into studio work as in a collage, synthesized photograph or paste-up is not plagiarism in the educational context. In the commercial world, however, such appropriation is prohibited by copyright laws and may result in legal consequences.


Open Source Policy

While students will be working in groups, it is expected that each individual will contribute equitably to the development of project work and will identify their contributions in an open and transparent manner. Copying/pasting and reusing code or schematics for electronics is a key part of the learning process. Modifying working examples rather than starting from scratch is encouraged. However, there is a very important caveat: any code or schematics you borrow and/or modify must be labeled as such. That is, you must include, in your work, the name of the author, the source URL, and you must make clear which lines of code are not yours and when you are using reference materials or tutorials from other sources. If you fail to do this, you will fail the class. It is very, very easy to get this right, though, so if you take a moment’s time to label your work correctly, you will not have a problem. Just be diligent and honest.


Parsons’ attendance policy was developed to encourage students’ success in all aspects of their academic programs. Parsons promotes high levels of attendance; full participation is essential to the successful completion of coursework and enhances the quality of the educational experience for all, particularly in courses where group work is integral. Students are therefore expected to attend classes regularly and promptly and in compliance with the standards stated in course syllabi.

Faculty members may fail any student who is absent for a significant portion of class time. A significant portion of class time is defined as three absences for classes that meet once per week. Students may be asked to withdraw from a course if habitual absenteeism or tardiness has a negative impact on the class environment. Students who must miss a class session should notify the instructor and arrange to make up any missed work as soon as possible.

Course Policies


All students are required to document their work online using a designated course blog to share their work. Quality and completion of documented work is a consideration in evaluation of each assessable task.


Students are responsible for all assignments, even if they are absent.  Late papers, failure to complete the readings assigned for class discussion, and lack of preparedness for in-class discussions and presentations will jeopardize your successful completion of this course.


Class participation is an essential part of class and includes: keeping up with reading, contributing meaningfully to class discussions, active participation in group work, and coming to class regularly, prepared and on time.


In rare instances, I may be delayed arriving to class.  If I have not arrived by the time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes for my arrival.  In the event that I will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted at the classroom indicating your assignment for the next class meeting.

Optional, Additional Course Information

Student Course Ratings

During the last two weeks of the semester, students are asked to provide feedback for each of their courses through an online survey and cannot view grades until providing feedback or officially declining to do so. Instructors rely on course rating surveys for feedback on the course and teaching methods, so they can understand what aspects of the class are most successful in teaching students, and what aspects might be improved or changed in future. Without this information, it can be difficult for an instructor to reflect upon and improve teaching methods and course design. In addition, program/department chairs and other administrators review course surveys.


Note: view full syllabus on Google Drive

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