ROHAN VIJAY
Research and Interventions on Design for Accessibility
Project Brief:
More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. This was an year long research project that was carried out at Embedded Interaction Lab, IIT Guwahati in collaboration with Samsung R&D Bangalore with the aim to design solutions to enhance smartphone usage amongst motor, speech, hearing, geriatric as well as conditions of limited accessibility for normal human beings.

The comprehensive research was done which involved comparative evaluation of over 200 native and third part mobile applications. This was followed by user study which included semi-structured interviews with four experts from Swabalambi, a cross-disability organization located around 35 kms from Guwahati. and four focus group studies were conducted among participants with different kinds and degrees of disabilities.

In the next phase, multiple concepts(over 30) were generated and three of then were taken ahead for prototyping and evaluation. Formative evaluation was conducted in a lab based setting, and think-aloud protocol along with eye-tracking and semi structured interviews was conducted to validate the design.
Year Long Research Timeline
The entire research spanned over a around ten months, segregated into three phases. Below is the brief of the project timeline.
Glance at Intial Research
The project kicked off by mainly by understanding the research domain and related research work that have been done in this area. This involved analysing the key statistics of disability around the world and reading through research papers and patents. Over 200 native and third party apps were analyzed to understand the current state of art.
Key findings from initial literature research about each of the disabilities e.i Motor, Speech and Hearing
Current accessibility features available in various smartphones mapped to native applications
User Research at Swabalambi

1. Expert Interviews

Semi-structured interviews were followed as a method for expert interviews. Four experts from Swabalambi were interviewed. Swabalambi is a cross-disability organization located around 35 kms from Guwahati. The experts included trainers, field officers and a caretaker. The interviews were conducted with the objective to understand general problems faced by users and with respect to their mobile phone usage. Duration of each interview was 15-20 minutes. Videos were recorded for further analysis
Expert Interviews being conducted by one of the team mates in local language, Assamese with the instructors at Swabalambi

2. Focus Groups

Four focus group studies were conducted among participants with different kinds and degrees of disabili- ties. These included the following focus groups:
Motor Impaired Users
Participants: 7 (4 males and 3 females)
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Different disabilities: No Fingers/fused fingers, cerebral palsy, numbness, deformation or shaking in one of the hands, loco-motor disability- one leg is absent, wheelchair bound, disability in one hand and continu- ous pain, partial paralysis.
Hearing and Speech Impaired Users
Participants: 7 (4 males and 3 females)
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Different disabilities: Hearing and speech impairment, non-severe speech disability, complete hearing loss and epilepsy.
Study 1: with non-severe hearing loss and,
Study 2: with complete hearing loss.
Geriatric Users
Participants: 7 (4 males and 3 females)
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Different disabilities: Continuous body pain, forgetfulfness, less cognitive Ability, shaking in hands, numbeness
3. Task Analysis

After the focus group was completed, same group of participants were engaged in various tasks that were designed such as to understand the usage pattern of various native applications of a smartphone under various circumstances. Tasks for each of the group was designed differently.
Participants performing various tasks on smartphone.
An Interesting Case of Single Hand Usage of Smartphones
One of the major problems with motor disabled users and normal people in situation of limited accessibility wherein the mobile needs to be operated with single hand is that it is very difficult to perform activity such as using a camera. During the study we came across various situations wherein users faced difficulty in reaching out to the top buttons of the interface on large phones while single handedly operating the phone.
Designing for Samsung Ecosystem
The project collaboration intended to focus on solution that were designed keeping in mind the current Samsung device ecosystem broady involving the smartphone and smartwatch.
Concept1: Enhancing movie watching experience for hearing impaired individuals
Hearing impaired individuals lack the sense of hearing while watching movies or videos, however a strong desire to experience the movie or video is always observed among them. We developed a conceptual experiment that enhances the movie watching experience among hearing impaired individuals. The total number of characters in the screen space, character who is speaking, the gender of the character, toggling between subtitles and presented to ensure the information is clearly communicated and further contextualized according to the users.

Concept2: Assistance in situational disability
Hearing impaired individuals lack the sense of hearing while watching movies or videos, however a strong desire to experience the movie or video is always observed among them. We developed a conceptual experiment that enhances the movie watching experience among hearing impaired individuals. The total number of characters in the screen space, character who is speaking, the gender of the character, toggling between subtitles and presented to ensure the information is clearly communicated and further contextualized according to the users.
Normal individuals often end up in a situation where some abilities of huamns are restricted. For example, human body-movements are occupied in a crowded bus or a train. In such situation, use of hands to pick up mobile phone (from the pocket or purse) and having a telephone conservation may be dangerous for users. During this project, we investigated few situations where users senses are occupied to perform specific task efficiently. We present few concept solutions which provide assistance in various situational disability conditions.
Easy Access - allowing easy-to-use one-handed large screen smartphone interactions
Large screen smartphones demand high physical attention and practice for easy, effective and efficient interaction, especially during one handed usage. We developed a concept of "Easy Access" that allows users to interact with large screen smartphones through one hand (both right & left hand) with increased ease of use and efficiency. Moreover, the application is applicable to all application, including native and thrid party applications. Following video showcases the details of the concept.

Other Concepts
This project is under non-disclosure agreement, hence we may not be able to publish complete work. Based upon approvals, only few concepts have been shown.





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