Social Media Platforms for Low-Income Blind People in India

Aditya Vashistha, Edward Cutrell, Nicola Dell, and Richard Anderson


University of Washington
Microsoft Research India


We present the first analysis of the use and non-use of social media platforms by low-income blind users in rural and peri-urban India. Using a mixed-methods approach of semi-structured interviews and observations, we examine the benefits received by low-income blind people from Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp and investigate constraints that impede their social media participation. We also present a detailed analysis of how low-income blind people used a voice-based social media platform deployed in India that received significant traction from low-income people in rural and peri-urban areas. In eleven-weeks of deployment, fifty-three blind participants in our sample collectively placed 4784 voice calls, contributed 1312 voice messages, cast 33,909 votes and listened to the messages 46,090 times. Using a mixed-methods analysis of call logs, qualitative interviews, and phone surveys, we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the platform and benefits it offered to low-income blind people.

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