Toucha11y: Making Inaccessible Public Touchscreens Accessible

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Li, Jiasheng
Yan, Zeyu
Shah, Arush
Lazar, Jonathan
Peng, Huaishu
Jiasheng Li, Zeyu Yan, Arush Shah, Jonathan Lazar, and Huaishu Peng. 2023. Toucha11y: Making Inaccessible Public Touchscreens Accessible. In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’23), April 23–28, 2023, Hamburg, Germany. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 13 pages.
Despite their growing popularity, many public kiosks with touchscreens are inaccessible to blind people. Toucha11y is a working prototype that allows blind users to use existing inaccessible touchscreen kiosks independently and with little effort. Toucha11y consists of a mechanical bot that can be instrumented to an arbitrary touchscreen kiosk by a blind user and a companion app on their smartphone. The bot, once attached to a touchscreen, will recognize its content, retrieve the corresponding information from a database, and render it on the user’s smartphone. As a result, a blind person can use the smartphone’s built-in accessibility features to access content and make selections. The mechanical bot will detect and activate the corresponding touchscreen interface. We present the system design of Toucha11y along with a series of technical evaluations. Through a user study, we found out that Toucha11y could help blind users operate inaccessible touchscreen devices.