A Blind Person’s Interactions With Technology

Braille labels

The latest issue of Communications of the ACM has an interesting story on the unique issues in interface design and usability when the user is blind.  The author/researchers Kristen Shinohara and Josh Tenenberg conducted interviews to examine limitations in current accessibility technologies for the blind.

Showing off her BrailleNote, she said she prefers reading Braille, as opposed to listening to talking software, because it is quiet.

She also said that carrying around her awkwardly shaped labeler makes her feel self-conscious and expressed frustration when she is not acknowledged in casual social situations due to her blindness. A concrete design modification she suggested is to allow a Braille labeler to make print labels. A dual print labeler would allow her to create labels so she could better share mixed CDs she makes for friends.

A great pullout quote is that:

Simply replacing one interaction mode, such as the display of text on a screen with a functionally equivalent mode, as in speaking the text aloud, is not necessarily equivalent from the point of view of user experience.