Touchscreen-Based Haptic Information Access for Assisting Blind and Visually-Impaired Users: Perceptual Parameters and Design Guidelines

Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 794)


Touchscreen-based smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets, offer great promise for providing blind and visually-impaired (BVI) users with a means for accessing graphics non-visually. However, they also offer novel challenges as they were primarily developed for use as a visual interface. This paper studies key usability parameters governing accurate rendering of haptically-perceivable graphical materials. Three psychophysically-motivated usability studies, incorporating 46 BVI participants, were conducted that identified three key parameters for accurate rendering of vibrotactile lines. Results suggested that the best performance and greatest perceptual salience is obtained with vibrotactile feedback based on: (1) a minimum width of 1 mm for detecting lines, (2) a minimum gap of 4 mm for discriminating lines rendered parallel to each other, and (3) a minimum angular separation (i.e., cord length) of 4 mm for discriminating oriented lines. Findings provide foundational guidelines for converting/rendering visual graphical materials on touchscreen-based interfaces for supporting haptic/vibrotactile information access.


Assistive technology Haptic information access Haptic interaction Multimodal interface Design guidelines 



We acknowledge support from NSF grants CHS-1425337 and ECR DCL Level 2 1644471 on this project.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Spatial Informatics Program: School of Computing and Information ScienceThe University of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.VEMI LabThe University of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Aerospace and Mechanical EngineeringSaint-Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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