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Large scale evaluation of novel sonification techniques for non visual shape exploration

Andrea Gerino, Lorenzo Picinali, Cristian Bernareggi, Nicolò Alabastro and Sergio Mascetti

The 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2015)
Lisbon, Portugal, October 26-28, 2015


There are several situations in which a person with visual impairment or blindness needs to extract information from an image. Examples include everyday activities, like reading a map, as well as educational activities, like exercises to develop visuospatial skills.

In this contribution we propose a set of 6 sonification techniques to recognize simple shapes on touchscreen devices. We also adopt an experimental methodology, based on gamification principles, to conduct a large scale evaluation. Invisible Puzzle is a mobile application that implements this methodology and makes it possible to conduct non-supervised evaluation sessions.

With Invisible Puzzle we conducted 131 tests with sighted subjects and 18 tests with subjects with blindness. All subjects involved in the process successfully completed the evaluation session, with high engagement, hence showing the effectiveness of the evaluation procedure. Results give interesting insights on the differences among the sonification techniques and, most importantly, show that, after a short training, subjects are able to identify many different shapes.

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