Conference date and location: 24-26 October, 2011, Dundee, Scotland
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Blind People and Mobile Touch-based Text-Entry: Acknowledging the Need for Different Flavors

João Oliveira, Tiago Guerreiro, Hugo Nicolau, Joaquim Jorge and Daniel Gonçalves


The emergence of touch-based mobile devices brought fresh and exciting possibilities. These came at the cost of a considerable number of novel challenges. They are particularly apparent with the blind population, as these devices lack tactile cues and are extremely visual demanding. Existing solutions resort to assistive screen reading software to compensate the lack of sight, still not all the information reaches the blind user. Good spatial ability is still required to have notion of the device and its interface, as well as the need to memorize buttons’ position on screen. These abilities, as many other individual attributes as age, age of blindness onset or tactile sensibility are often forgotten, as the blind population is presented with the same methods ignoring capabilities and needs. Herein, we present a study with 13 blind people consisting of a touch screen text-entry task with four different methods. Results show that different capability levels have significant impact on performance and that this impact is related with the different methods’ demands. These variances acknowledge the need of accounting for individual characteristics and giving space for difference, towards inclusive design.

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