Visualization of data spread on the internet is mostly inaccessible to blind and low- sighted individuals who use screen readers, assistive technologies that read elements on the screen with a text-to-speech approach.
Encouraged by this, an interdisciplinary research team from MIT worked on creating screen reader-friendly data visualizations that offered a similarly rich experience. They prototype several visualization structures that provide text descriptions at various levels of detail.
This prototype allows screen reader users to navigate from general level data to more detailed level information with just a few keystrokes.
The MIT research team began the iterative design process with collaborator Daniel Hajas, a researcher at University College London who worked with the Global Disability Innovation Hub and lost his sight at the age of 16.
They collaborated to develop this prototype and run a detailed user study with blind and low- sighted individuals to gather feedback.
“Researchers may see some connection between problems and be aware of potential solutions, but very often they miss it quite a bit,” Hajas was quoted as saying in a press release via Eurekalert.
Insights from people who have direct experience on certain specific and measurable problems, according to Hajas, are very important for many solutions related to disability.