Improving Smartphone’s interaction for visually impaired and blind users

Term Paper, 2012

18 Pages, Grade: A



Nowadays, mobile devices allow the disabled people with many different opportunities to act independently in the world. However, these powerful and competent devices may have large number of interactivity challenges, especially for the people who are blind or visually impaired. Research and different studies proves that a blind or visually impaired person has better capability to rely on other senses most importantly the touch and audio sensors. This literature review would be dealing with the analysis and studies of different interfaces for the blind and visually impaired patients, keeping in view the important points that favour the user in every way. Using the haptic concept, to elaborate the letters for the blind user while writing a text message or calling someone and an audio interface to direct and communicate between the phone and user. There are some problems that hinder blind users to interact with the Smartphonewhich includes screen touch, interface, text entry, navigation, individual differences and some other problems. There are no efforts that have been made to discover the control of touch or smart phones in non-visual mobile interface. In this lecture review, I am going to present some works that have been done recently about interacting challenges with Smartphone devices and blind people.


Smartphone interface is still in the beginning stage as comparedto with personal computer interface, and many researches arebeing done on personal computers for decades. Only few studies have been completed that are based on a group of individuals, scenarios and situations faced by mobile specifically for disabled people(WHO., 2012). These type of phones have the facility to make a big change and to create variety of learning opportunities for blind and visually impaired users, if we address its features to connect with other blind tools (Sanches, 2008)(Sanchez J, 2008)A person with permanent or partially blindness, experiences several limitations, while interacting with mobile devices (Guerreiro T., 2008)(Kane S. , 2009)(Plos O., 2006). Mobile users with severe visual boundaries and is unable to receive information and data, therefore the capability to interact with these sort of devices is highly limited.

There are several steps to conquer or decrease difficulties that occur from disabilities. By using interactive technologies, scheming new solutions which are based on alternative interaction methods (available phones) such as haptic interfaces, screen readers or multimodal information feedback (ShinoharaK., 2009). Moreover, there is variety of special mobile devices that were made or developed to meet the needs of a blind user such as Braillino, the Alva Mobile Phone Organizer, HTC Ozone VX 6175 or LG Accolade VX5600 Phone ( MacKenzie, 2007 ) ( mulberry., 2012 )

In (Guerreiro T., 2008)the authors emphasize the input part and came up with the idea of two non-visual texting interfaces for keypad-based devices - NavTap and BrailleTap. Similar one is BrailleTypeon (Oliveira J., 2011)

2.1 Issues and possible solutions regarding screen touch:

A touch screen is an electronic visual display that can sense the presence and position of a touch within the display area. Nowadays, there are many public access terminals, such as bank ATMs (automated teller machines), ticket machines and data points, are progressing towards touch screen technology and drifting away from the traditional one, integrating physical control panels and buttons. This progress towards such technology presents a considerable issue to millions of visually impaired people (WHO., 2012)especially those dealing with smart phones.

2.2 Different other problems:

The touch screen technologies and tasks do not give any tactile difference between controls and display space. Complementary, the controls on a typical mobile telephone, this can be learnt easily by visually impaired people. However, applying these controls to a touch screen is much difficult due to the lack of tactile difference between implicit buttons and surrounding surfaces. The touch screen technologies in these phones, affects the degree of freedom which blind and visually defective people may no longer be capable of accessing any of the functionality, and loose this valued choice.(McGookin, 2008)

Another associated issue is navigating the menus through the visual display, “as the menus must be learned. Menus may also change as data is added or removed from the device requiring re-learning.”(McGookin, 2008)

In (Yatani, 2009)(Sánchez J. a., 2007)(Sánchez J. a., 2007)(Potter, 1988)papers, the non-tactile touch screens have some issues when visually defected peoples attempt to interact with touch screen. These problems can be listed as

1) Shortage of available audio or tactile response when performing actions.
2) Lack of the ability to decide the current state of the touch screen device.
3) Complexity in selecting the required item on screen.

In (Sears, 1991)paper “the author mainly explained the difficulty of understanding that where were objects located on the screen. The author also mentioned that they were troubled about accidentally engaging certain features on the touch screen, for example accidentally deleting an important file or withdrawing money from an ATM.”

As discussed by McGookin et al. (McGookin, 2008)“the development of emulating existing GUI’s while using the finger as a mouse can interpret existing problems into an even more difficult situation. On top of this, the mobile systems do often feature distinctive or efficient interface layouts. The end result is a puzzling environment designed for accessibility programs.”

2.3 Feasible Solutions for these problems:

The lack of available audio or tactile feedback when performing several tasks and actions, the need to decide the current state of the touch screen device; and obscurity in deciding the required item on screen are addressed by Slide Rule(Kane S. , 2009). Sightless user can gesture on a touch screen without any visual feedback. Also, it allows the user to use screen touch without any of the tactile overlays, physical buttons or any other hardware. Furthermore, Slide Rule provides a chance for the visually impaired user to discover and interact with these types of applications and does not require any memorizing the location of the applications on screen.


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Improving Smartphone’s interaction for visually impaired and blind users
The University of Liverpool
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
560 KB
improving, smartphone’s
Quote paper
Alex Cole (Author), 2012, Improving Smartphone’s interaction for visually impaired and blind users, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Improving Smartphone’s interaction for visually impaired and blind users

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free