Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Computer Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Narges Mahyar

Subject Categories

Other Computer Sciences


Although data visualizations have been around for centuries and are encountered frequently by the general public, existing evidence suggests that a significant portion of people have difficulty understanding and interpreting them. It might not seem like a big problem when a reader misreads a weather map and finds themselves without an umbrella in a rainstorm, but for those who lack the means, experience, or ability to make sense of data, misreading a data visualization concerning public health and safety could be a matter of life and death. However, figuring out how to make visualizations truly usable for a diverse audience remains difficult. In my thesis, I examined three areas where altering current practices may help make data visualizations more understandable and impactful in the future.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.