It is crucial to make software, with its ever-growing influence on everyday lives, accessible to all, including people with disabilities. Despite promoting software accessibility through government regulations, development guidelines, tools and frameworks, investigations reveal a marketplace of inaccessible web and mobile applications. To better understand the limitations of contemporary software industry in adopting accessibility practices, it is necessary to construct a holistic view that combines the perspectives of software practitioners, stakeholders and end users. In this paper, we collect 637 conversations from Twitter to synthesize and qualitatively analyze discussions posted about software accessibility. Our findings observe an active community that provides feedback on inaccessible software, shares personal accounts of development practices and advocates for inclusivity. By perceiving software accessibility from process, profession and people viewpoints, we present current conventions, challenges and possible resolutions with four emergent themes: cost and incentives, awareness and advocacy, technology and resources, and integration and inclusion.
Learning to read Braille is crucial to academic success for people with blindness or severe visual impairment. In our work, we investigate how we can support early learning of Braille with tangible computing. In a human-centered inclusive design process with interviews, six design iterations with prototypes, and feedback from experts, students, and teachers, we created BrailleBuddy. BrailleBuddy is a tangible user interface supporting children with visual impairments in learning Braille. We evaluated BrailleBuddy in a user study with children with blindness. Our results show that BrailleBuddy provides intrinsic motivation for learning Braille and can be used by children without supervision. BrailleBuddy complements the educational program as it allows children to play with and explore Braille characters at their own pace, thus lowering the challenge of learning to read Braille. In addition, an open-source toolkit is provided to enable educators and researchers to support individual requirements.
While being able to read with screen magnifiers, low vision people have slow and unpleasant reading experiences. Eye tracking has the potential to improve their experience by recognizing fine-grained gaze behaviors and providing more targeted enhancements. To inspire gaze-based low vision technology, we investigate the suitable method to collect low vision users' gaze data via commercial eye trackers and thoroughly explore their challenges in reading based on their gaze behaviors. With an improved calibration interface, we collected the gaze data of 20 low vision participants and 20 sighted controls who performed reading tasks on a computer screen; low vision participants were also asked to read with different screen magnifiers. We found that, with an accessible calibration interface and data collection method, commercial eye trackers can collect gaze data of comparable quality from low vision and sighted people. Our study identified low vision people’s unique gaze patterns during reading, building upon which, we propose design implications for gaze-based low vision technology.
We present the results of one year spent engaging people living with intellectual disabilities with an electronics and programming package. The program was run in collaboration with a disability support organization and delivered by support workers. We evaluate key qualities of the package at three sites via ongoing communication and reflective interviews with five support workers, along with observation of sessions and contextual inquiry with eleven people with a range of disabilities. Our findings demonstrate the importance of physicality in enabling experiences by creating real-world analogues and supporting diverse group interactions; how groups support members' attention, motivating each other, and allow space for coping mechanisms; and participants' growing confidence and creativity in problem solving, and the emergence of self-directed activities. We discuss the importance of diverse repetition for skill development, how skills develop over the year, and pragmatic lessons for conducting a long-term research program with a disability support organization.
Teaching accessibility is essential in training technologists and designers. However, the topics of accessibility and disability are vast and intersect with culture (social constructions). Since cultural background is an influential factor in design decisions, which could have implications for accessible design, we wanted to understand whether and how courses at U.S. institutions address the importance of cultural influences when teaching accessibility and disability topics. We surveyed 72 students from U.S. institutions and ran 14 follow-up interviews with students who took technical and non-technical courses. Using reflexive thematic analysis, we found similarities and differences in how technical and non-technical courses approach accessibility teaching. We found a lack of cultural focus in accessibility teaching in the technical courses, which can be improved by adopting teaching approaches from non-technical courses. We also make recommendations to improve course design, such as including people from different cultures and disabilities to help develop courses.
Audio production is a skilled practice that requires mastery in highly complex software and hardware tools. Blind audio producers face a steep learning curve where they must learn multiple inaccessible audio production tools in conjunction with workarounds for screen reader support. Learning audio production is made even more challenging due to a scarcity of educational resources geared towards blind people. Grounded in formative interviews and observations with seven blind audio production instructors, we developed Tutoria11y, an extension for GarageBand to support blind audio producers in creating accessible, interactive tutorials that screen reader users can follow to receive step-by-step guidance and confirmation of their actions. Findings from design exploration sessions with five blind instructors highlight how Tutoria11y can support tutorial creation and augment tutorial playback for blind audio producers. We discuss how we can rethink technology's role as a means to amplify, rather than replace, the knowledge of disabled experts.