iBraille: Creating a Mobile App

iBrailleAccessibility guidelines are in place for websites and webpages, but we need to go further and start to consider people with vision impairment who use mobile apps. Making IOS compatible with Braille is the purpose of this study. The authors conclude that a set of development guidelines are needed similar to the web guidelines for accessibility.

From the abstract:  In this revolutionary time of expanding tablet use and app development, universal design and accessibility is paramount to the construction of mobile apps. Some issues in accessibility are easily identified and may be addressed at the onset of software development. However, guidelines for software development are minimal (Sapp, 2007), particularly in relationship to mobile app development. Despite efforts to create universally designed software from the onset, many issues with accessibility are unknown until the app is in use. Similarly, teachers, students, individuals with disabilities, technology specialists, parents, and users of a particular device may identify a variety of different needs and options that make an app user friendly. In some cases, the app may be fully accessible, but successful use of the software requires advanced technology skills (Sapp, 2007), and the development team must simplify the user interface. To address ease of use, the opinions of a variety of different users, especially teachers, who have varying experiences and technology skills during development is critical (Falloon, 2013). The purpose of this paper, is to share the research-based, iterative, and organic process of development that authors used to create the iBraille Challenge Mobile App.

Download Methods in Creating the iBraille Challenge Mobile App for Braille Users

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Blending UD, e-Learning and ICT

elearningThe authors* of this chapter examine how to blend universal design (UD) with e-learning tools used by post-secondary faculty and with information and communication technologies (ICTs) used by students in traditional classroom, hybrid, and online courses. The focus is on how instructors can design and deliver their courses in an accessible way using e-learning.  The authors conclude: “Considering UD when selecting and using e-learning materials in traditional, hybrid, and online courses can ensure an accessible learning experience for the diversity of students in today’s colleges and universities. Collaboration between the wide array of stakeholders is needed to design, implement, and support accessibility and usability. This includes the students, instructors, ICT vendors, institutional IT procurement specialists, and campus disability service providers.”

*In S. E. Burgstahler (Ed.), Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice (2nd ed.), pp. 275-284. Boston: Harvard Education Press.

Dowload the chapter here 

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Disability and mobile Internet

world wide webGerard Goggin’s latest publication focuses on the Internet, which is now 25 years old, but mobile Internet accessibility is struggling to keep up. He asks, “the web is our virtual commons, but how can we empower all people to use and contribute to the web regardless of language and ability?”

Gerard Goggin is Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydisability in australia goggin newelldney. His research focuses on the social and cultural aspects of mobile media and Internet, as well as disability and digital technology. He co-authored the landmark book with the late Christopher Newell, Disability in Australia: Exposing a social apartheid.  A review of the book provides an overview of the issues covered.  A good reference for understanding the routine oppression of people with disabilty in Australia.

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Access, accessibility and the iPhone

iphone-4-ios-7-iphone-4sBlurred lines: Accessibility, disability and definitional limitations.

This paper explores the history and utility of the concept of “accessibility” in relation to the iPhone and similar devices, and the difficulties of differentiating between accessibility for people with disability and usability concerns for the general public. Elizabeth Ellcessor is assistant professor of cinema and media studies, and has an engaging way of writing. She says the case of iOS7 indicates the difficulties of defining both accessibility and disability in the contemporary moment. Increasingly, the lines between accessibility and usability, disability and difference, accommodation and preference are blurring. 

The author uses disability theory to argue that access is a complicated phenomenon, and that even given the difficulties in establishing definitions of “accessibility,” the concept is worthwhile because it carries with it reminders of the politics of difference, the difficulties of access, the history of disability rights, and the relationship of media to civil rights and public participation. Download the document.

Note: the webpage is not particularly accessible with on-screen small print.

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Designing mobile apps for a National Park

Yosemite 1Creating Alternative Formats. The design of brochures for National Park Service in the USA has evolved into reliance on graphic images of pictures and maps as a means of stimulating interest in visiting. However, this style of brochure does not lend itself well to audio description and other formats. This article traces the detailed research into formulating appropriate designs for alternative formats. Adopting a components-based approach, the intention was to provide clear pathways for cross-modal translation of the printed material into audio-described media, which then, can be efficiently distributed via mobile apps, as an extension of these original components. There is also a link to the Unigrid system that is applied to all NPS brochures.

 

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Menu Positioning on Web Pages. Does it Matter?

This article is by Dr Pietro Murano, The Universal Design of ICT Research Group in Oslo, Norway, and Tracey J Lomas, Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Salford, UK.

Abstract: This paper concerns an investigation by the authors into the efficiency and user opinions of menu positioning in web pages. While the idea and use of menus on web pages are not new, the authors feel there is not enough empirical evidence to help designers choose an appropriate menu position. We therefore present the design and results of an empirical experiment, investigating the usability of menu positioning on web pages. A four condition experiment was conducted by the authors. Each condition tested a different menu position. The menu positions tested were left vertical, right vertical, top horizontal and bottom horizontal. The context was a fictitious online store. The results, based on statistical analysis and statistically significant findings, suggest that the top horizontal and left vertical positioned menus incurred fewer errors and fewer mouse clicks. Furthermore, the user satisfaction ratings were in line with the efficiency aspects observed.  Download the article here PDF

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