Advantages and Drawbacks of Smartphones and Tablets for Visually Impaired People —— Analysis of ICT User Survey Results ——

Tetsuya WATANABE  Toshimitsu YAMAGUCHI  Kazunori MINATANI  

Publication
IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E98-D   No.4   pp.922-929
Publication Date: 2015/04/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2014EDP7317
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology
Keyword: 
visually impaired people,  smartphones,  tablets,  touch interface,  user survey,  

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Summary: 
A survey was conducted on the use of ICT by visually impaired people. Among 304 respondents, 81 used smartphones and 44, tablets. Blind people used feature phones at a higher rate and smartphones and tablets at lower rates than people with low vision. The most popular smartphone model was iPhone and the most popular tablet model was iPad. While almost all blind users used the speech output accessibility feature and only a few of them used visual features, low vision users used both visual features such as Zoom, Large text, and Invert colors and speech output at high rates both on smartphones and tablets. The most popular text entry methods were different between smartphones and tablets. For smartphones flick and numeric keypad input were popular among low vision users while voice input was the most popular among blind users. For tablets a software QWERTY keyboard was the most popular among both blind and low vision users. The advantages of smartphones were access to geographical information, quick Web browsing, voice input, and extensibility for both blind and low vision users, object recognition for blind users, and readability for low vision users. Tablets also work as a vision aid for people with low vision. The drawbacks of smartphones and tablets were text entry and touch operation difficulties and inaccessible apps for both blind and low vision users, problems in speech output for blind users, and problems in readability for low vision users. Researchers and makers of operating systems (OS) and apps should assume responsibility for solving these problems.