Accessible gesture typing for non-visual text entry on smartphones

Syed Masum Billah, Yu Jung Ko, Vikas Ashok, Xiaojun Bi, I. V. Ramakrishnan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

11 Scopus citations


Gesture typing–entering a word by gliding the finger sequentially over letter to letter–has been widely supported on smartphones for sighted users. However, this input paradigm is currently inaccessible to blind users: it is difficult to draw shape gestures on a virtual keyboard without access to key visuals. This paper describes the design of accessible gesture typing, to bring this input paradigm to blind users. To help blind users figure out key locations, the design incorporates the familiar screen-reader supported touch exploration that narrates the keys as the user drags the finger across the keyboard. The design allows users to seamlessly switch between exploration and gesture typing mode by simply lifting the finger. Continuous touch-exploration like audio feedback is provided during word shape construction that helps the user glide in the right direction of the key locations constituting the word. Exploration mode resumes once word shape is completed. Distinct earcons help distinguish gesture typing mode from touch exploration mode, and thereby avoid unintended mix-ups. A user study with 14 blind people shows 35% increment in their typing speed, indicative of the promise and potential of gesture typing technology for non-visual text entry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450359702
StatePublished - May 2 2019
Event2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: May 4 2019May 9 2019

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Accessible gesture typing for non-visual text entry on smartphones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this