A Balloon, a Sweater, and a Wall: Developing Design Strategies for Accessible User Experiences with a Science Simulation

  • Taliesin L. Smith
  • Clayton Lewis
  • Emily B. Moore
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9739)

Abstract

Interactive computer simulations are effective learning tools commonly used in science education; however, they are inaccessible to many students with disabilities. In this paper, we present initial findings from the design and implementation of accessibility features for the PhET Interactive Simulation, Balloons and Static Electricity. Our focus: access for screen reader users. We designed an interaction flow that connected keyboard interactions with reactions in dynamic content. Then using a Parallel Document Object Model (PDOM), we created access to simulation content and interactive sim objects. We conducted interviews with screen reader users to evaluate our progress, and to understand better how they engage with interactive simulations. We share findings about our successes and challenges in the design and delivery of dynamic verbal text description, of efficient keyboard navigation, and the challenges we faced in making a keyboard accessible drag and release mechanism for a highly interactive simulation object, a Balloon.

Keywords

Web accessibility Usability Blind users Inclusive design Non-visual user interface Parallel document object model Keyboard interaction Text description Educational simulation Interactive science simulation 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taliesin L. Smith
    • 1
  • Clayton Lewis
    • 2
  • Emily B. Moore
    • 2
  1. 1.OCAD UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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