Ubiquitous accessibility for people with visual impairments: Are we there yet?

Syed Masum Billah, Vikas Ashok, Donald E. Porter, Ramakrishnan

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

31 Scopus citations


Ubiquitous access is an increasingly common vision of computing, wherein users can interact with any computing device or service from anywhere, at any time. In the era of personal computing, users with visual impairments required special-purpose, assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to interact with computers. This paper investigates whether technologies like screen readers have kept pace with, or have created a barrier to, the trend toward ubiquitous access, with a specific focus on desktop computing as this is still the primary way computers are used in education and employment. Towards that, the paper presents a user study with 21 visually-impaired participants, specifically involving the switching of screen readers within and across different computing platforms, and the use of screen readers in remote access scenarios. Among the findings, the study shows that, even for remote desktop access - an early forerunner of true ubiquitous access - screen readers are too limited, if not unusable. The study also identifies several accessibility needs, such as uniformity of navigational experience across devices, and recommends potential solutions. In summary, assistive technologies have not made the jump into the era of ubiquitous access, and multiple, inconsistent screen readers create new practical problems for users with visual impairments. Copyright is held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationExplore, Innovate, Inspire
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781450346559
StatePublished - May 2 2017
Event2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017 - Denver, United States
Duration: May 6 2017May 11 2017

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Other2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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