A case study in the design of software that uses auditory cues to help low vision students view notes on a blackboard

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Berque, Dave
Bonebright, Terri
Kinnett, Seth
Nichols, Nathan
Peters, Adam
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This ongoing project investigates the interplay between educational technology, pen-based computing, and auditory displays with respect to the design of assistive technology for low-vision students in a classroom setting. Specifically, we report on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a software system named v-VIS (Viewer for Visually Impaired Students) that addresses the problems low-vision students have in seeing material which may be written on a blackboard or overhead projector in a traditional classroom setting. Instead of writing extemporaneously on a blackboard or overhead projector, the instructor in a v- VIS enabled classroom uses an electronic stylus to write and sketch material freehand on the surface of an electronic video tablet. Material written on the video tablet is input into a computer projection system which displays it on a screen at the front of the room, thereby allowing fully sighted students to view the material much as they would if the instructor was writing on an overhead projector. The instructors writing is simultaneously transmitted to a computer located at the low-vision student's desk where this material is displayed using color adjustment, zoom, and audio cues. Several distinct auditory cues are used to inform the low-vision student when new material begins to arrive on the screen, how long this material continues to arrive, and which region of the screen the material is being displayed on. Work on the v-VIS system has been informed both by a formal user study comparing several different audio cue designs, and by gathering feedback from a low-vision student who used the system in a semester-long statistical methods course.
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