A gesture based minimalistic app (launcher) for blind users.
Echoing Green Fellow
NCPEDP Universal Design Award
NASSCOM Social Entrepreneur
4 developers (outsourced), 1 designer, 1 researcher
Accessibility standards are well defined for web platforms, and there is high adoption amongst developers for these. Also, there are a number of assistive softwares on desktop that allow easy access to all standard features.
On mobile platform however, the number of solutions are lesser, and their experience is compromised. The default OS accessibility features are Talkback for Android and Voiceover for iOS. Both these are only screen readers that read content tapped by the user. Since the UI itself is designed for sighted users, it is typically densely populated with content. Hence, it requires lot of exploration with finger for a blind user to use these interfaces.
SimplEye app takes a fundamental approach towards accessibility and offers a radically minimal user-experience.
The screen displays only one UI item at a time. It is displayed in big text with high contrast colors. User can interact with this item by using simple gestures like scroll up, down, left, right, tap, double tap etc. Note that user can make these gestures anywhere on the screen instead of finding the UI item with her finger. UI items and gesture feedback is also spoken out using default screenreader TTS.
SimplEye is a launcher app. It comes with following features:
SimplEye follows the design guidelines we identified as part of Braille Phone project. Specifically, these two:
The Information Architecture (examples shown above) reflects the same. Each chart covers one functionality in completeness. Any flow that originates from left, linearly flows till its completion (towards right). There are no jumps from one tree to another. Also, the milestones on a flow are similar in heirarchy and interaction to respective milestones on other flows.
This architecture complements minimal UI. Steps for any flows are also easily memorable, and provide high affordance. Users were able to mentally complete a sequence of steps even before starting a flow. This was critical for our target segment, and its effectiveness was validated in further studies.
The detailed documentation of flows beyond Information Architecture was intentional. It optimised the development timelines as this project was outsourced for development.
As mentioned above, this project was based on design guidelines derived from user studies conducted for the Braille Phone project. The guidelines were equally applicable for software UI as they were for physical products.
Users appreciated the simplicity of the app. So much so, that elderly people also started using the app even though they were not from target segment. The feedback helped us optimise the app further by:
We interfaced with users (200+) via multiple mediums: