Tuesday, May 09, 2023 - 10:00am to Tuesday, May 09, 2023 - 12:00pm
NCS 220
Event Description

People who are blind and visually impaired (BVI) struggle to interact with even accessible computing applications since the user interfaces (UIs) of these applications are not tailored for usable and efficient content access with assistive technologies such as screen readers and screen magnifiers. This is unsurprising because usability - the ease with which BVI users can do tasks in applications - has received far less attention compared to accessibility in both research and developer communities. Even few existing research efforts targeting the usability of interfaces for BVI users have mostly limited their focus to web browsing, and as such little has been done for other important applications such as productivity tools. Moreover, these efforts have predominantly targeted blind screen reader users, whereas the usability issues of low vision screen magnifier users have been largely underexplored. Motivated by this dearth of usability-enhancing efforts, I developed custom augmentation techniques for improving applications' usability by dynamically extending their UIs with auxiliary interfaces that are especially tailored for either blind or low vision users. In an abstract sense, an auxiliary interface captures key segments in the corresponding application's UI, and then presents these segments in an alternative format that is conveniently and efficiently navigable with screen readers or screen magnifiers. The auxiliary interface also mitigates the need for BVI users to manually navigate to-and-fro between different segments in the application's UI (e.g., between document edit area and ribbon commands in a word processing application), thereby significantly lowering the BVI users' interaction effort and time to do the application tasks. In this thesis, I present three such custom augmentation techniques for each of the following everyday application scenarios: (i) accessing commands in productivity applications; (ii) perusing web data records; and (iii) comprehending informal social media content. For each scenario, I first uncovered application-specific user requirements, and then leveraged this acquired knowledge to design and develop a usable custom auxiliary interface.

Event Title
Ph.D. Thesis Defense: Hae-Na Lee, 'Enhancing the Usability of Computer Applications for People with Visual Impairments via UI Augmentation'