Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 533–544 | Cite as

Promoting interactive television (iTV) accessibility: an adapted service for users with visual impairments

  • Rita OliveiraEmail author
  • Jorge Ferraz de Abreu
  • Ana Margarida Almeida
Long Paper


In spite of the wide dissemination of technologies and digital resources, people with special needs still find barriers and difficulties in accessing and using many of the information technology services currently available. This problem is particularly critical in usage scenarios involving mass media devices like television (TV), particularly taking in consideration its interactive format with all advanced features it brings. In this context, the creation of inclusion strategies becomes essential for increasing digital literacy and citizens’ capacity to participate in different areas using advanced services such as interactive television (iTV). In this framework, this paper introduces a study from the Portuguese context regarding universal design issues on the iTV scope, which aims at the conceptualization, prototyping and validation of an iTV service specifically designed to look on visually impaired users’ needs. With the development of this iTV service, the authors intend to allow access to adapted television content (such as audio described content) to visually impaired users (VIU), as well as making its user interface accessible for this type of users. The methodology of this study was based on the grounded theory (in the first stage) and the evaluative study method (in the second and third stage). In the first stage, the difficulties and needs of VIU as consumers of television contents and audio description services were identified. In the second stage, the adapted iTV prototype was conceptualized and developed. Regarding the third stage, it included the prototyped service evaluation by a group of visually impaired participants. In the end of the study, the participants who were involved in the prototype tests showed satisfaction with the features offered by the system as well as with the design of its interface.


Interactive television Visual impairment Accessibility Universal design 



The authors would like to thank: i) Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), the Portuguese funding agency that supported this research, under the grant SFRH/BD/63528/2009; ii) Institute of Ophthalmology Dr. Gama Pinto for allowing to interview its low vision appointment patients; iii) the interviewees of the first study stage and the evaluators of the prototype for their openness and kindness; and iv) the coordinators and collaborators of iNeighbour TV Project funded by FEDER (through COMPETE) and National Funding (through FCT) under Grant Agreement No. PTDC/CCI-COM/100824/2008, for the provision of their IPTV infrastructure.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita Oliveira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jorge Ferraz de Abreu
    • 1
  • Ana Margarida Almeida
    • 1
  1. 1.CIC.DIGITAL/Digimedia – Department of Communication and ArtsUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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