03 July 2018
Accessibility, magnifier, low-vision, web-browsing, user-interface, locality, visual impairments, H.5.2. Information interfaces and presentation: User Interfaces-input devices and strategies , K.4.2. Computers and Society: Social issues-assistive technologies for persons with disabilities
Low-vision users struggle to browse the web with screen magnifiers. Firstly, magnifiers occlude significant portions of the webpage, thereby making it cumbersome to get the webpage overview and quickly locate the desired content. Further, magnification causes loss of spatial locality and visual cues that commonly define semantic relationships in the page; reconstructing semantic relationships exclusively from narrow views dramatically increases the cognitive burden on the users. Secondly, low-vision users have widely varying needs requiring a range of interface customizations for different page sections; dynamic customization in extant magnifiers is disruptive to users’ browsing. We present SteeringWheel, a magnification interface that leverages content semantics to preserve local context. In combination with a physical dial, supporting simple rotate and press gestures, users can quickly navigate different webpage sections, easily locate desired content, get a quick overview, and seamlessly customize the interface. A user study with 15 low-vision participants showed that their web-browsing efficiency improved by at least 20 percent with SteeringWheel compared to extant screen magnifiers.