Grid-Coding: An Accessible, Efficient, and Structured Coding Paradigm for Blind and Low-Vision Programmers

Md Ehtesham-Ul-Haque, Syed Mostofa Monsur, Syed Masum Billah

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

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sighted programmers often rely on visual cues (e.g., syntax coloring, keyword highlighting, code formatting) to perform common coding activities in text-based languages (e.g., Python). Unfortunately, blind and low-vision (BLV) programmers hardly benefit from these visual cues because they interact with computers via assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers), which fail to communicate visual semantics meaningfully. Prior work on making text-based programming languages and environments accessible mostly focused on code navigation and, to some extent, code debugging, but not much toward code editing, which is an essential coding activity. We present Grid-Coding to fill this gap. Grid-Coding renders source code in a structured 2D grid, where each row, column, and cell have consistent, meaningful semantics. Its design is grounded on prior work and refined by 28 BLV programmers through online participatory sessions for 2 months. We implemented the Grid-Coding prototype as a spreadsheet-like web application for Python and evaluated it with a study with 12 BLV programmers. This study revealed that, compared to a text editor (i.e., the go-to editor for BLV programmers), our prototype enabled BLV programmers to navigate source code quickly, find the context of a statement easily, detect syntax errors in existing code effectively, and write new code with fewer syntax errors. The study also revealed how BLV programmers adopted Grid-Coding and demonstrated novel interaction patterns conducive to increased programming productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUIST 2022 - Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450393201
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 29 2022
Event35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, UIST 2022 - Bend, United States
Duration: Oct 29 2022Nov 2 2022

Publication series

NameUIST 2022 - Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology

Conference

Conference35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, UIST 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBend
Period10/29/2211/2/22

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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