People who are blind or low vision may have a harder time participating in activities that enhance quality of life due to inaccessibility, travel difficulties, or lack of experience. Enhancing quality of life allows people to complete and enjoy activities that they view as important such as exercise, education, or engaging in culture. The goal of this dissertation is to present the artifacts and studies that give insights to help people who are blind or low vision engage in these activities.

First, I present an empirical investigation where I employed Value Sensitive Design. My Value Sensitive Design work involved 20 semi-structured interviews and a 76-person survey to learn about the opportunities and challenges for exercise technologies. I present four new themes I discovered through this work. Then, I present Eyes-Free Yoga, an accessible yoga coach that provides personalized real-time feedback on yoga postures and auditory motivations including levels, achievements, and reminders. Using 3D camera technology, I captured a person’s posture and used the expertise of yoga instructors to determine personalized feedback. I developed the motivations based on the persuasive technology literature. I conducted a 16-person laboratory study and found that 13 preferred the personalized feedback to no feedback. I also conducted a 4-person 8-week in-home deployment study and found that all four participants used Eyes-Free Yoga consistently and felt that motivations enhanced their workouts.

Then, I present Eyes-Free Art, a proxemic audio interface that helps people who are blind or low vision interactively explore 2D paintings. Using 3D camera technology, I captured a user’s distance from the painting and physical gestures to present different audio representations: background music, interactive sonification of colors, interactive sound effects, and detailed verbal description. I conducted a 13-person laboratory study and found that 11 of the 13 participants preferred Eyes-Free Art to only a verbal description.

In this dissertation, I provide supporting evidence for my thesis statement: “When applied to quality of life for people who are blind or low vision, interactive technologies support an increase in enjoyment, an increase in the amount of time engaged in the activity, people to learn more about the activity, independent access to the activity, and multiple stakeholders.”

Full Thesis:
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Thesis Advisor:
Julie Kientz and Richard Ladner

Award Date:
August 19, 2016

University of Washington
Seattle, WA

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