Virtual Reality

, Volume 9, Issue 2–3, pp 133–148 | Cite as

A novel multimodal interface for improving visually impaired people’s web accessibility

  • Wai Yu
  • Ravi Kuber
  • Emma Murphy
  • Philip Strain
  • Graham McAllister
Original Article

Abstract

This paper introduces a novel interface designed to help blind and visually impaired people to explore and navigate on the Web. In contrast to traditionally used assistive tools, such as screen readers and magnifiers, the new interface employs a combination of both audio and haptic features to provide spatial and navigational information to users. The haptic features are presented via a low-cost force feedback mouse allowing blind people to interact with the Web, in a similar fashion to their sighted counterparts. The audio provides navigational and textual information through the use of non-speech sounds and synthesised speech. Interacting with the multimodal interface offers a novel experience to target users, especially to those with total blindness. A series of experiments have been conducted to ascertain the usability of the interface and compare its performance to that of a traditional screen reader. Results have shown the advantages that the new multimodal interface offers blind and visually impaired people. This includes the enhanced perception of the spatial layout of Web pages, and navigation towards elements on a page. Certain issues regarding the design of the haptic and audio features raised in the evaluation are discussed and presented in terms of recommendations for future work.

Keywords

Multimodal interface Haptics Audio Assistive technology Web accessibility Web navigation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wai Yu
    • 1
  • Ravi Kuber
    • 1
  • Emma Murphy
    • 1
  • Philip Strain
    • 1
  • Graham McAllister
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s University of BelfastBelfastUK

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