Showing posts with label digital divide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label digital divide. Show all posts

Friday, 31 May 2013

Transcending the Digital Divide

The purpose of this research is to develop, evaluate, and disseminate a non-visual interface for accessing digital information. The aim is to investigate the perceptual and cognitive problems that blind people face when trying to interpret information provided in a multimodal manner. The project also plans to provide touch sensitive and sound based network interface and navigation devices that incorporate cognitive wayfinding heuristics. Haptic (force feedback) interfaces will be provided for exploring web pages that consist of map, graphic, iconic or image products. Sound identifiers for on-screen windowed, map, and image information will also be provided. These tasks will contribute to transcending the Digital Divide that increasingly separates blind or vision impaired people from the growing information-based workplace. Recent research at UCSB has begun to explore how individuals identify features presented through sound and touch. Other research (e.g. O'Modhrrain and Gillespie, 1998; McKinley and Scott, 1998) have used haptics to explore screen objects such as windows, pulldown menus, buttons, and sliders; but map, graphic and other cartographic representations have not been explored. In particular, the potential of auditory maps of on-screen phenomena (e.g. as would be important in GIS applications) has barely been examined and few examples exist of combining audio and touch principles to build an interface. While imaginative efforts to build non-visual interfaces have been proceeding. there is a yet little empirical evidence that people without sight can use them effectively (i.e. develop a true representation of the experienced phenomena). Experiments will be undertaken to test the ability of vision impaired and sighted people from different age groups to use these new interface or features such as: (i) the haptic mouse or a touch window tied to auditory communication displays; (ii) digitized real sounds to indicate environmental features at their mapped locations; (iii) "sound painting" of maps, images, or charts to indicate gradients of phenomena like temperature, precipitation, pressure, population density and altitude. Tests will be developed to evaluate (i) the minimum resolvable area for the haptic interpretation of scenes; (ii) the development of skills for shape tracing in the sound or the force-feedback haptic domain, (iii) the possibility of using continuous or discreet sound symbols associated with touch sensitive pads to learn hierarchically nested screen information (e.g. locations of cities within regions within states within nations); (iv) to evaluate how dynamic activities such as scrolling, zooming, and searching can be conducted in the haptic or auditory domain, (v) to evaluate people's comprehension and ability to explore, comprehend, and make inferences about various non-visual interpretations of complex visual displays (e.g. maps and diagrams), and (vi) to explore the effectiveness of using a haptic mouse with a 2" square motion domain to search a 14" screen (i.e. scale effects).

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Multimodal Interfaces for Representing and Accessing Geospatial Information

Golledge, R.G., Rice, M., and Jacobson, R.D. (2006) Multimodal Interfaces for Representing and Accessing Geospatial Information. In: Rana, S. and Sharma, J. (eds.) Frontiers of Geographic Information Technology. Springer-Verlag: Berlin & New York, pp 181-208.


Multimodal interfaces have a great potential impact in our daily lives and in the education of students in all grades.  In particular, they offer significant benefits for people who are disabled.  The use of tactile, haptic, and auditory interfaces has a potential to make technology more universally accessible.  To this extent it will
mitigate the rapidly expanding digital divide between those who are able to use computers to access the Internet and web page information (i.e., those who  are computer literate) and those who are not.
Information technology transformations are affecting how we communicate, how we store and access information, how we become healthier and receive more medical care, how we learn at different stages of our development, how business is conducted, how work is undertaken in order to produce income, how things are built or designed, how data is stored and managed, and how research is conducted.  With the increasing emphasis on visualization as the main interface medium for computer based services, an ethical problem emerges regarding whether or not people who are visually impaired or who have other tactile, haptic, or auditory impairments should be increasingly disabled by the trend towards digital communication and information processing.  We believe that such groups should not be shut out from the advantages offered by the use of this technology, just as we believe that multimodal interfaces will enrich the understanding of the computer-based input and output of information that is becoming a part of our everyday lives.