TOUCHSCREEN ACCESSIBILITY: FROM TABLETS TO SMARTWATCHES Tiago Guerreiro, Hugo Nicolau LaSIGE, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal [email protected], [email protected] Abstract Enabling access to a computing device is likely to have a huge impact in the quality of life of a person. Every once in a while, new technologies are devised and impact the way we communicate, work and even, how we have fun. Paradigmatically, it is often the case that a new technology empowers the general able-bodied user and fosters exclusion of people with disabilities. The emergence of touch-based smartphones as the de facto mobile interaction gadget created a gap between those that were able to use the device as it was deployed in the market and those that were not able to do so. The potential usages of these devices exploded and users that were at that time able to use mobile phones with physical keypads similarly to their peers, saw themselves living in the past of mobile interaction, from one day to the other. This was the case of blind people when smartphones started to dominate the market circa 2007. It is not a surprise that the inclusion of VoiceOver as a built-in accessibility feature in the IPhone 3GS version is a major turning point in the recent history of accessible computing. At the time, when it was launched in 2009, smartphones were already established as a person’s handheld computer, way beyond a simple communication tool, and had an impact in people’s lives that could not be overseen. Apple democratized access to smartphones and the others followed, always a little behind. Researchers focused, for the following years, mostly on understanding the impact of the built-in accessibility features and enabling or improving specific tasks and applications, but generally accepting the VoiceOver modus operandi. This research was carried mostly in the laboratory limiting the understanding of the integration of these gadgets in one’s life, particularly to what respects the relationship with peers. Our research has mostly focused in understanding the benefits and flaws of modern touchscreen technology and how it can be improved for people with different abilities. In this sense, we have studied how blind and visually impaired people learn and interact with touchscreen devices being able to identify the major barriers in the adoption of this technology. Furthermore, we have focused on challenging tasks, like text-entry, seeking to provide alternatives that fits the users’ needs. From gesture-based textentry to Braille input, from tablets to smartwatches, in this communication we will start by presenting the methods and results achieved in these studies [1,2,3,4]. Besides the tools and applications paraphernalia that came along with these new devices, another reason to adopt them lingered: social acceptance. Feature phones became obsolete and, despite their recognized higher accessibility, became socially undesirable. There are a number of online testimonials and videos on the benefits and proficiency of using a modern touch phone. On the other hand, little is known about the learning process of this new technology and, once again, what these users lost in their transition from older to newer devices and how long it took for them to regain a similar level of control over these new tools . Anecdotally, we have observed blind people that learned to manoeuvre them, feel victorious and proud, and, looking back, see a great evolution from the smartphone early days, when these were inaccessible to them. Compared to other challenges they faced in their lives, this is likely to be a minor one. A side effect of this generalized idea (users, manufacturers, and society) that smartphones are now fully accessible and that, in the particular case of blind people, they have regained the control they once had with their feature phones, is that relevant layers beyond physical access to the device and its contents are overlooked. In this communication, we will also focus on the shortcomings of current mobile devices in the social arena. Particularly, we motivate and present work in the areas of security and privacy, inconspicuous interaction, and social context awareness [6,7,8,9]. With the emergence of new technologies it is relevant to keep in mind that enabling physical access is not enough as social aspects need to be guaranteed. These layers beyond access need to be pursued and added until we are able to state that people with disabilities stand in par with others in social contexts. References 1. João Oliveira, Tiago Guerreiro, Hugo Nicolau, Joaquim Jorge, and Daniel Gonçalves. 2011. Blind people and mobile touch-based text-entry: acknowledging the need for different flavors. In The proceedings of the 13th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and accessibility (ASSETS '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 179-186. DOI=10.1145/2049536.2049569. 2. João Oliveira, Tiago Guerreiro, Hugo Nicolau, Joaquim Jorge, and Daniel Gonçalves. 2011. BrailleType: unleashing braille over touch screen mobile phones. In Proceedings of the 13th IFIP TC 13 international conference on Human-computer interaction - Volume Part I (INTERACT'11), Pedro Campos, Nuno Nunes, Nicholas Graham, Joaquim Jorge, and Philippe Palanque (Eds.), Vol. Part I. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 100-107. 3. João Guerreiro, André Rodrigues, Kyle Montague, Tiago Guerreiro, Hugo Nicolau, Daniel Gonçalves. 2015. TabLETS get physical: non-visual text-entry on tablet devices. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1705-1708. 4. Hugo Nicolau, Kyle Montague, Tiago Guerreiro, João Guerreiro, and Vicki L. Hanson. 2014. B#: chord-based correction for multitouch braille input. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1705-1708. DOI=10.1145/2556288.2557269. 5. André Rodrigues, Kyle Montague, Hugo Nicolau, and Tiago Guerreiro. 2015. Getting Smartphones to TalkBack: Understanding the Smartphone Adoption Process of Blind Users. In Proceedings of the 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA. 6. Hugo Nicolau, Kyle Montague, Tiago Guerreiro, André Rodrigues, Vicki Hanson. 2015. HoliBraille: Multipoint Vibrotactile Feedback on Mobile Devices. In Proceedings of the 12th International Web for All Conference (W4A’15). Florence, Italy, May. 7. Hugo Nicolau, João Guerreiro, Tiago Guerreiro, and Luís Carriço. 2013. UbiBraille: designing and evaluating a vibrotactile Braille-reading device. In Proceedings of the 15th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 23, 8 pages. DOI=10.1145/2513383.2513437. 8. Diogo Marques, Tiago Guerreiro, Luís Duarte, and Luís Carriço. 2013. Under the table: tap authentication for smartphones. In Proceedings of the 27th International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (BCS-HCI '13), Steve Love, Kate Hone, and Tom McEwan (Eds.). British Computer Society, Swinton, UK, Article 3, 6 pages. 9. Ivo Rafael, Luís Duarte, Luís Carriço, and Tiago Guerreiro. 2013. Towards ubiquitous awareness tools for blind people. In Proceedings of the 27th International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (BCS-HCI '13), Steve Love, Kate Hone, and Tom McEwan (Eds.). British Computer Society, Swinton, UK, UK, Article 38, 5 pages.