The Project: 

Human-computer interaction (HCI), has only recently begun to explore the role of emotion in everyday-life-mediated technology. This is of growing importance to the HCI community. In parallel the ability to process large volumes of text and imagery and use natural language processing tools, image processing and machine learning techniques have come of age. We propose to combine these approaches to explore the cultural factors which effect the perceptions of people towards disability. This will allow the student to answer the following research question: What are the factors that may affect the representation and perceptions of disability at a cultural level? Starting with language the student will explore how disabled people are represented in the printed media by scraping the web-based forms of public popular media - newspapers, blogs forums and social web. These will be analysed using the spaCy (https://spacy.io/) library to create word vectors and analyse the impact of events such as the London Olympics & Paralympics on the representation of disabled people. Using image processing libraries, a similar method will be used for images which are used to represent disability. The second thread of the PhD will be to explore the effect this has on disabled people. To this end the emotional response of disabled and non–disabled persons will be explored as they are exposed to these texts and images. We will analyse the emotional response using facial and whole body recognition. Finally, an interactive art form, which will be co-created by disabled people and artists will be created to explore their perception of being disabled. This will be displayed at UCL (Here) East on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the methods developed in this PhD will be used to explore the emotional response to the piece. This project will be in conjunction with the UCL East partners: V&A, Sadler’s Wells and London College of Fashion. The outputs of the project will be a novel contribution in the application of natural language processing; a development of method to analyse physical artefacts using machine learning techniques on whole body movements and the creation of art forms which tell the story of disability. This project will be completed as part of a larger body of work at the Global Disability Innovation Hub and the student will form part of the initial cohort of students for the Hub. The cohort is the first to be recruited across the members of the Cultural and Educational District on the QEOP.
 
The applicant: 
 
To be eligible for the awards , candidates must be either be UK residents, or EU residents who have been living in the UK for 3 years prior to the course commencing (for education purposes is fine). EU residents who have not been living in the UK are eligible for fee only awards.  
 
 
The award:
 
The award is 4 years in duration, covering UK/EU fees, minimum RCUK stipend & a small allowance for consumables.
 
The award must start by the beginning of the 2017/18 academic year otherwise funds will be lost; there is no flexibility as the grant ends in September 2021.