ARCADE proposes leveraging interactive and digital technologies to create context-aware workspaces to improve physical rehabilitation practices.
We investigate the use of social robots to create inclusive classrooms for mix-visual abilities children.
AVATAR proposes creating a signing 3D avatar able to synthesize Portuguese Sign Language.
In this project, we are creating the tools to characterize user performance in the wild and improve current everyday devices and interfaces.
Although text-entry is an inherently visually demanding task, we are creating novel non-visual input methods to multiple form-factors: from tablets to smartwatches.
Braille 21 is an umbrella term for a series of research projects that aim to bring Braille to the 21st century. Our goal is to facilitate access to Braille in the new digital era.
This research leverages mobile and wearable technologies to improve classroom accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing college students.
We investigate novel interfaces and interaction techniques for nonvisual word completion. We are particularly interested in quantifying the benefits and costs of such new solutions.
As touchscreens have evolved to provide multitouch capabilities, we are exploring new multi-point feedback solutions.
In this research work, we are investigating novel interactive applications that leverage the use of concurrent speech to improve users' experiences.
This project investigates how accurate tracking systems and engaging activities can be leveraged to provide effective evaluation procedures in physical rehabilitation.
Our goal is to thoroughly study mobile touchscreen interfaces, their characteristics and parameterizations, thus providing the tools for informed interface design.
We aim to understand the overlap of problems faced by health and situational impaired users when using their mobile devices and design solutions for both user groups.
There are over 80 million stroke survivors globally, making it the main cause of long-term disability worldwide. Not only do the challenges associated with stroke affect the quality of life (QoL) of survivors, but also of their families. To explore these challenges and define design opportunities for technologies to improve the QoL of both stakeholders, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 survivors and one of their family members. We uncovered three major interlinked themes: strategies to cope with technological barriers, the (in)adequacy of assistive technologies, and limitations of the rehabilitation process. Findings highlight multiple design opportunities, including the need for: meaningful patient-centered tools and methods to improve rehabilitation effectiveness, emotion-aware computing for family emotional support, and re-thinking the nature of assistive technologies to consider the perception of transitory stroke-related disabilities. We thus argue for a new class of dual-purpose technologies that fit survivors’ abilities while promoting the regain of function.
Geometry and handwriting rely heavily on the visual representation of basic shapes. It can become challenging for students with visual impairments to perceive these shapes and understand complex spatial constructs. For instance, knowing how to draw is highly dependent on spatial and temporal components, which are often inaccessible to children with visual impairments. Hand-held robots, such as the Cellulo robots, open unique opportunities to teach drawing and writing through haptic feedback. In this paper, we investigate how these tangible robots could support inclusive, collaborative learning activities, particularly for children with visual impairments. We conducted a user study with 20 pupils with and without visual impairments, where they engaged in multiple drawing activities with tangible robots. We contribute novel insights on the design of children-robot interaction, learning shapes and letters, children engagement, and responses in a collaborative scenario that address the challenges of inclusive learning.
Sign Languages are visual languages and the primary means of communication used by Deaf people. However, the majority of the information available online is presented through written form. Hence, it is not of easy access to the Deaf community. Avatars have gained an increase of interest due to their potential in automatically generating signs from text. Synthetic animation of conversational agents can be achieved through the use of notation systems. HamNoSys is one of these systems, which describes movements of the body through symbols. SiGML is an XML-compliant machine-readable format that enables avatars to animate HamNoSys symbols. However, there are no freely available open-source libraries that allow the conversion from HamNoSys to SiGML. In this paper, we present our open-source and cross-platform tool that performs such conversion. This system represents a crucial intermediate step in the broader pipeline of animating signing avatars. Finally,we describe two cases studies to illustrate different applications of our tool.
Software for the production of sign languages is much less common than for spoken languages. Such software usually relies on 3D humanoid avatars to produce signs which, inevitably, necessitates the use of animation. One barrier to the use of popular animation tools is their complexity and steep learning curve, which can be hard to master for inexperienced users. Here, we present PE2LGP, an authoring system that features a 3D avatar that signs Portuguese Sign Language. Our Animator is designed specifically to craft sign language animations using a key frame method, and is meant to be easy to use and learn to users without animation skills. We conducted a preliminary evaluation of the Animator, where we animated seven Portuguese Sign Language sentences and asked four sign language users to evaluate their quality. This evaluation revealed that the system, in spite of its simplicity, is indeed capable of producing comprehensible messages.
The design of graphical user interfaces has been evolving from skeuomorph interfaces – which use elements that mimic the aesthetics and functionality of their real-world counterparts – to minimalist and flat designs. Despite the growing popularity of these new design approaches, they can be challenging for older adults who experience a decline in visual and cognitive abilities. Still, little is known about user performance, aesthetic perception, and preference of older adults, particularly in comparison to younger users and traditional skeuomorph interfaces. In this paper, we examine the performance and aesthetic perception of older (65-77 years old) and younger (20-40) adults with three design approaches: skeuomorph, skeuominimalist, and flat design. Results show flat design is either slower or less accurate than traditional skeuomorph interfaces for older adults across three tasks: visual search, identifying clickable objects, and multiple page navigation. Younger adults were less susceptible to performance differences between design approaches, but still subject to “click uncertainty” with flat interfaces. Skeuominimalism did not show clear performance benefits over flat design or skeuomorphism, while the latter reduced the performance gap between age groups. Finally, younger adults preferred the simplicity of skeuominimalism, while older adults preferred skeuomorph interfaces because of the perceived usability, beauty, and trustiness.
Health conditions, both chronic and acute, are often accompanied by disability-like impairments that might affect mobility, cognition, or perception. These impairments are often pernicious because they are difficult to isolate, vary in intensity and extent over time, and are under-investigated. Here, we make the case that solutions to these impairments are often impervious to traditional accessibility solutions and thinking, and that new solutions are needed. We present argumentation and case-studies, which build the case for a different category of impairments called ‘Health-Induced Impairments and Disabilities’ (HIID). The distinction between traditionally defined disabilities and HIIDs is essential because an understanding that this category of impairments is fundamentally different both in cause and nature affects the effectiveness of the accessibility solutions we provide. Here, we intended to outline the ’problem’ space and elaborate on the four main characteristics of HIIDs (as we see them) to provide delineation and clarity. It is the only way we can enact on robust solutions within this problem space, being: (1) Combinatorial Impairments; (2) Dynamic Impairments varying in Magnitude and Extent; (3) Impairments as a Comorbidity; and (4) Socio-Technical. We intend to outline these characteristics with third-party cases to serve as exemplars of the problems faced. We do not provide research solutions, or indeed any novel empirical evidence. Instead, we define a place for discussions to begin. Therefore, this work is better understood as a position paper or a call-to-action. We make the case that addressing the disability (caused by the underlying illness) is often ineffective; what we need to do is address the illness directly which will in turn address the disability through their transitory relationship.