Braille-based Text Input for Multi-touch Screen Mobile Phones

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Sektionen för datavetenskap och kommunikation; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Sektionen för datavetenskap och kommunikation

Abstract: ABSTRACT: “The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight. The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information that exist. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance.”- National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Multi-touch screen is a relatively new and revolutionary technology in mobile phone industry. Being mostly software driven makes these phones highly customizable for all sorts of users including blind and visually impaired people. In this research, we present new interface layouts for multi-touch screen mobile phones that enable visionless people to enter text in the form of Braille cells. Braille is the only way for these people to directly read and write without getting help from any extra assistive instruments. It will be more convenient and interesting for them to be provided with facilities to interact with new technologies using their language, Braille. We started with a literature review on existing eyes-free text entry methods and also text input devices, to find out their strengths and weaknesses. At this stage we were aiming at identifying the difficulties that unsighted people faced when working with current text entry methods. Then we conducted questionnaire surveys as the quantitative method and interviews as the qualitative method of our user study to get familiar with users’ needs and expectations. At the same time we studied the Braille language in detail and examined currently available multi-touch mobile phone feedbacks. At the designing stage, we first investigated different possible ways of entering a Braille “cell” on a multi-touch screen, regarding available input techniques and also considering the Braille structure. Then, we developed six different alternatives of entering the Braille cells on the device; we laid out a mockup for each and documented them using Gestural Modules Document and Swim Lanes techniques. Next, we prototyped our designs and evaluated them utilizing Pluralistic Walkthrough method and real users. Next step, we refined our models and selected the two bests, as main results of this project based on good gestural interface principles and users’ feedbacks. Finally, we discussed the usability of our elected methods in comparison with the current method visually impaired use to enter texts on the most popular multi-touch screen mobile phone, iPhone. Our selected designs reveal possibilities to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the existing text entry methods in multi-touch screen mobile phones for Braille literate people. They also can be used as guidelines for creating other multi-touch input devices for entering Braille in an apparatus like computer.

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