Open Exhibits - Research - Papers



Usable Gestures for Blind People: Understanding Preference and Performance


Despite growing awareness of the accessibility issues surrounding touch screen use by blind people, designers still face challenges when creating accessible touch screen interfaces. One major stumbling block is a lack of understanding about how blind people actually use touch screens. We conducted two user studies that compared how blind people and sighted people use touch screen gestures. First, we conducted a gesture elicitation study in which 10 blind and 10 sighted people invented gestures to perform common computing tasks on a tablet PC. We found that blind people have different gesture preferences than sighted people, including preferences for edge-based gestures and gestures that involve tapping virtual keys on a keyboard. Second, we conducted a performance study in which the same participants performed a set of reference gestures. We found significant differences in the speed, size, and shape of gestures performed by blind people versus those performed by sighted people. Our results suggest new design guidelines for accessible touch screen interfaces.