Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Armando Barreto

Keywords

auditory tables, assistive technology, screen readers

Date of Defense

5-22-2014

Abstract

More information is now readily available to computer users than at any time in human history; however, much of this information is often inaccessible to people with blindness or low-vision, for whom information must be presented non-visually. Currently, screen readers are able to verbalize on-screen text using text-to-speech (TTS) synthesis; however, much of this vocalization is inadequate for browsing the Internet. An auditory interface that incorporates auditory-spatial orientation was created and tested. For information that can be structured as a two-dimensional table, links can be semantically grouped as cells in a row within an auditory table, which provides a consistent structure for auditory navigation. An auditory display prototype was tested.

Sixteen legally blind subjects participated in this research study. Results demonstrated that stereo panning was an effective technique for audio-spatially orienting non-visual navigation in a five-row, six-column HTML table as compared to a centered, stationary synthesized voice. These results were based on measuring the time- to-target (TTT), or the amount of time elapsed from the first prompting to the selection of each tabular link. Preliminary analysis of the TTT values recorded during the experiment showed that the populations did not conform to the ANOVA requirements of normality and equality of variances. Therefore, the data were transformed

using the natural logarithm. The repeated-measures two-factor ANOVA results show that the logarithmically-transformed TTTs were significantly affected by the tonal variation method, F(1,15) = 6.194, p= 0.025. Similarly, the results show that the logarithmically transformed TTTs were marginally affected by the stereo spatialization method, F(1,15) = 4.240, p=0.057. The results show that the logarithmically transformed TTTs were not significantly affected by the interaction of both methods, F(1,15) = 1.381, p=0.258. These results suggest that some confusion may be caused in the subject when employing both of these methods simultaneously. The significant effect of tonal variation indicates that the effect is actually increasing the average TTT. In other words, the presence of preceding tones increases task completion time on average. The marginally-significant effect of stereo spatialization decreases the average log(TTT) from 2.405 to 2.264.

Identifier

FI14071117

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