I’m excited that the last part of my dissertation was recently published (and is now free to view online) at CSCW 2018! My paper, ‘xPress: Rethinking Design for Aging and Accessibility through an IVR Blogging System’ talks about how landline phones can still be useful technology for people who face barriers to using a computer or smartphone. This work is with people over the age of 65 with low vision or who are blind and describes how I built a system called xPress that lets them blog on Tumblr…but on a phone. (link @ bottom)
- connecting: People said using xPress made it easier to connect to other older people with vision challenges. They also thought it could provide a way to have more meaningful conversations with sighted people without the stigma associated with their vision loss.
- unique community: xPress was a unique space where participants reflected on the challenges of having a vision impairment and interestingly didn’t want sighted people to contribute posts! After all, blind people hear the opinions of sighted people ALL the time. Instead, they thought this could be a community where sighted people can learn about life with a vision impairment.
- voice for all: Designing a voice-based system was initially intended for people who aren’t comfortable using screen readers on computers. Not only did these participants find value in using xPress, but people who were active computer users also liked the emotion that could be derived from listening to a blog post as an audio recording rather than a computerized voice from a screen reader.
What this means for other researchers:
- intersectionality: The participants were not solely older adults OR people with vision impairments. These were older adults WITH vision impairments. Think about how intersectional identities may affect how systems are designed and how people use them.
- importance of voice: I’m not saying everyone will continue to use landline phones in the future (sorry?), but consider how voice-based systems can be built to leverage the emotion of human voice. Specifically for blind people, they use voice as an identifier. Think about the consequences of removing human voice in place of more efficient/scalable computerized voices.
What this means for people not in research:
- bloggers: How you can engage people who are different from yourself? People with vision impairments and others may value spoken blog posts!
- citizens: Many participants described how society sees older adults, people with vision impairments, and older adults with vision impairments as people who need help. Next time you see someone in either of these categories, have a more meaningful conversation with them beyond ‘Can I help you?’
link to paper: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3139354