Examining Visual Semantic Understanding in Blind and Low-vision Technology Users
Published in CHI 21: ACM Conference on Human Factors and Computing Systems, 2021
Visual semantics provide spatial information like size, shape, and position, which are necessary to understand and efficiently use interfaces and documents. Yet little is known about whether blind and low-vision (BLV) technology users want to interact with visual affordances, and, if so, for which task scenarios. In this work, through semi-structured and task-based interviews, we explore preferences, interest levels, and use of visual semantics among BLV technology users across two device platforms (smartphones and laptops), and information seeking and interactions common in apps and web browsing. Findings show that participants could benefit from access to visual semantics for collaboration, navigation, and design. To learn this information, our participants used trial and error, sighted assistance, and features in existing screen reading technology like touch exploration. Finally, we found that missing information and inconsistent screen reader representations of user interfaces hinder learning. We discuss potential applications and future work to equip BLV users with necessary information to engage with visual semantics.
Recommended citation: Venkatesh Potluri, Tadashi E Grindeland, Jon E. Froehlich, Jennifer Mankoff. 2021. Examining Visual Semantic Understanding in Blind and Low-Vision Technology Users. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’21), May 8–13, 2021, Yokohama, Japan. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445040