A Google Slides extension could make presentation tool extra available for blind customers

A workforce led through researchers on the College of Washington created A11yBoard for Google Slides, a browser extension and get in touch with or pill app that permits blind customers to navigate advanced slide layouts, gadgets, pictures, and textual content. Right here, the person demonstrates the contact display screen interface. Credit score: College of Washington

Display screen readers, which convert virtual textual content into sound, could make computer systems available to many customers with disabilities, together with those that are blind, visually impaired, or have dyslexia. On the other hand, slide display tool, similar to Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, isn’t designed to make display screen reader output coherent.

Such systems in most cases depend on Z-ordering — which follows the best way gadgets are layered on a slide — when a display screen reader navigates during the contents. As a result of Z-arrangement does now not adequately put across how a slide is situated in 2D area, slide display tool will not be available to folks with disabilities.

A workforce led through researchers on the College of Washington created A11yBoard for Google Slides, a browser extension and get in touch with app that permits blind customers to navigate advanced slide layouts and textual content. By way of combining a desktop laptop and a cellular software, A11yBoard permits customers to paintings with voice, contact, gesture, speech reputation, and seek to grasp the place other gadgets are positioned on a slide and animate the ones gadgets to create wealthy layouts. For instance, a person can contact a textual content field at the display screen, and a display screen reader will describe its colour and place. Then, the usage of a voice command, the person can shrink this newsletter field and align it left with the slide identify.

The workforce offered their analysis on October 25 at ASSETS 2023 in New York. A11yBoard isn’t but to be had to the general public.

“For a very long time or even now, accessibility has frequently been regarded as: ‘We are doing a just right task if we permit blind folks to make use of fashionable merchandise.’” “Unquestionably,” stated senior writer Jacob O. Woubrock, a UW Professor within the College of Data. It is a precedence.” “However this is handiest part of our function, as a result of that handiest way permitting blind folks to make use of what others create. We wish to empower folks to create their very own content material, past a PowerPoint slide this is only a identify and a textual content field.”

A11yBoard for Google Slides is in accordance with a chain of analysis performed within the Wobbrock Lab exploring how blind customers engage with “forums” — virtual canvases on which customers paintings with gadgets similar to textual content bins, shapes, pictures, and charts. The slideshow tool is in accordance with a chain of those artboards.

When lead writer Zhuohao (Jerry) Zhang, a doctoral pupil within the iSchool on the College of Wisconsin, joined Wobbrock’s lab, the 2 sought to discover a method to accessibility flaws in creativity equipment, similar to slideshow tool. Development on earlier analysis through Wobbrock’s lab at the issues blind folks face the usage of artboards, Wobbrock and Zhang offered a prototype of the A11yBoard in April. They then labored to create an answer which may be deployed thru present tool, and settled at the Google Slides extension.

For the present paper, the researchers labored with co-author Jin S. H. Kim, a Stanford undergraduate who’s blind, to strengthen the interface. The workforce examined it with two different blind customers, asking them to recreate the slides. Each testers famous that A11yBoard a great deal progressed their talent to grasp visible content material and create slides themselves with out consistent iteration with collaborators; They simply had to have interaction a sighted assistant on the finish of the method.

Testers additionally highlighted issues of growth: staying continuously acutely aware of object positions whilst seeking to edit them used to be nonetheless a problem, and customers have been pressured to accomplish each and every motion for my part, similar to aligning a couple of visible teams from left to proper, somewhat than finishing those repeated movements on a unmarried foundation. Bills. Given how Google Slides works, the present model of the app additionally does not permit customers to undo or redo edits throughout other units.

In the end, the researchers plan to unlock the app to the general public. However first they plan to combine a big language style, similar to GPT, into the tool.

“This may probably assist blind folks compose slides extra successfully, the usage of herbal language instructions like ‘align those 5 squares the usage of their left edge,’” Zhang stated. “Whilst an accessibility researcher, I am at all times amazed at how inaccessible those are.” Commonplace equipment. So, with the A11yBoard, we got down to alternate that.”

additional information:
Zhuhao Zhang et al., advanced and deployed a real-world answer for simple slide studying and composing for blind customers, twenty fifth ACM SIGACCESS Global Convention on Computer systems and Accessibility (2023). doi: 10.1145/3597638.3608418

Supplied through the College of Washington

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