Objective comparisons of Exploration and Gesture based touchscreen keyboards for the Blind
Objective comparisons between
Exploration and Gesture based
keyboards for the blind
Dr. Nikhil Balram,
President and CEO,
Ricoh Innovations Corporation
About 8.075 million of the total
blind population is in India (about 21%)
But only 5% of them use or receive support from
assistive technology of any form! – WHO report
Pascolini D, Mariotti SPM. Global estimates of visual impairment: 2010. British Journal Ophthalmology Online First published December 1, 2011 as 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2011-
Current Assistive Technology for
Range from Braille Sense Plus (6000 USD) with a
Braille Display to GalaTee (400 USD) in the USA
Braille Sense Plus
Images from Nanopac.com and amazon.com respectively
What about making information
available to everyone on the go?
But how does a blind individual
type and reach information without
This question became the backbone of our
Before going further,
A bit of background in Braille
3 by 2 binary matrix, encodes upto 63 characters
11/26/2013Brian Frey, Caleb Southern, and Gregory D. Abowd. 2011. BrailleTouch: designing a mobile eyes-free soft keyboard. In Proceedings of the 13th International
Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 707-709.
The current cutting edge research
on Eyes-Free text typing.
- Highly researched area in the West.
- We focused on the two which are in vogue
keeping Indian Blind participants in mind
Georgia Tech Research
Numeric keypad is not simple to use
Both hands are required
Highly Memory dependent (Braille)
11/26/2013Brian Frey, Caleb Southern, and Gregory D. Abowd. 2011. BrailleTouch: designing a mobile eyes-free soft keyboard. In
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI '11). ACM, New
York, NY, USA, 707-709.
Google’s Android TalkBack
Numeric keypad is not simple to use
So we put them Head-to-Head
and compared their results
BrailleTouch vs Android Talkback Keyboard
Established in 1947, has 15 campuses across
Gujarat, with 300 odd employees and many more
Taught Braille in 3 languages- English, Hindi &
We recruited 4 completely Blind
participants for our study…
Each participants used mobile phones with a TTS on a
Nokia C5 series was a phone commonly used by them.
Quite often keep in touch with me via email!
Braille education Smartphone
Usability testing strategy
The Experiment App
Simple Key logger; No need for a very aesthetically
Can we now conclude that
BrailleTouch is a better technique?
Let’s take a closer look at the typing errors by our
Aggregated results – Keystroke
Number of errors total
Android Stock Keyboard
Keystroke time inclusive of errors
Actual time required to type ‘h’
= 3067 + 3313 + 3530
= 9910 millisecs! (inclusive of errors)
Whereas it’s 3530 millisecs in the previous method
Take home #1
Is BrailleTouch or Android
Talkback keyboard ideal?
Maybe a hybrid approach between exploration and
gesture might be ideal since both have huge
A longer term study on the participants would make
Take home #2
Indian Blind users prefer the British
accented voice feedback more than
the American accent!
A simple reason for this is that the colloquial terms
are crisp and clear in the British accent
Take home #3
Have lesser motor control in their
ring finger to type
Clear from the errors increasing with the dots in the
Take home #4
Editing previously typed words
functionality is essential
Through my direct observations and the user’s
Future: A Hybrid approach?
A longer term study would be required for this