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Improving smartphone accessibility with personalizable static overlays

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kyle Montague


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© 2017 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s). The physical keypads that used to dominate our mobile devices provided additional support for non-visual interaction - the keys could be recognized tactually, the interfaces were simpler and consistent. When combined with a screen reader, these devices could be easily operated by blind people. The advent of smartphones, with their rich, feature-filled applications and interfaces, have brought forward additional challenges for blind users. Apps and features are no longer developed by a single entity leading to an overwhelming variety of interfaces. We present an approach that superimposes a virtual overlay to all other interfaces ensuring interface consistency by re-structuring how content is accessed in every screen. To explore the approach, we split the screen, dedicating half to a configurable set of static options mimicking always available physical buttons regardless of context; while the other enables the standard content navigation gestures with the ability to re-order content and apply filters. In a qualitative study with nine visually impaired participants, the virtual overlays were reported as simpler to use, while still providing full-fledged usage of the system and the third party applications, and were seen as effective and useful, particularly for novice users.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rodrigues A, Santos A, Montague K, Guerreiro T

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: ASSETS 2017 - Proceedings of the 19th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility

Year of Conference: 2017

Pages: 37-41

Acceptance date: 20/10/2017

Publisher: ACM


DOI: 10.1145/3132525.3132558

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781450349260