F5-CL1-1 - An Auditory Interface to Workspace Awareness Elements Accessible for the Blind in Diagrams’ Collaborative Modeling

3. Research Full Paper
Márcio Josué Ramos Torres1, 2 , Regina Bärwaldt1, Luiz Oscar Homann de Topin1, Paulo César Ramos Pinho1, Tiago Fossati Otero1
1 Federal University of Rio Grande
2 Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio Grande do Sul

This Research Full Paper presents the design and evaluation of an auditory interface that allows blind people to perceive workspace awareness elements in a shared environment for modeling diagrams. Approximately 36 million Brazilians are visually impaired, where half a million are blind, and the enrollment of the blind at Brazilian higher public education institutions has been increasing. However, accessible tools for diagram authoring are scarce, despite their necessity on STEM courses. There are studies and new developments regarding the perception and authoring of diagrammatic information, but they do not consider collaborative features. Therefore, this study proposes the sonification of workspace awareness elements as a solution to enable accessible groupware features for the blind. It was designed auditory cues for three awareness categories (who, what, and where) using abstract sounds and favoring suitable metaphors for an intuitive mapping. The designed auditory cues were implemented in a prototype application for collaborative diagram modeling and evaluated through an objective usability test. The results demonstrated that participants could reasonably distinguish who made what and where. Besides, it was possible to identify the awareness categories which need more work.