Introduction

The Blindscript (application + website) platform project is based on solution suggestions of academic research about the accessibility of information for the visually impaired. The opportunity to make some of these suggestions a reality, arises in 2017 through the Coding for Social Impact (CSI) project. This project, supported by the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) in partnership with the Social Business School (IES), is an opportunity for social innovators, anywhere in the world, to co-create a minimal software solution that meets the local or global concrete needs of society. The co-creation takes place between the person who suggested the idea and the masters students in Computer Engineering of FEUP using an Agile Development methodology (SCRUM) during 8 weeks. In addition to bringing experience to future masters, the CSI initiative is highly adherent to the innovative solutions promoted by the United Nations (UN) based on 17 sustainable development goals. Among these goals is the reduction of inequalities, which fits the Blindscript project that promotes the digital inclusion of the visually impaired.

The Solution

The Blindscript Project was approved by CSIs staff with a proposal derived from the discussions on future researches of from the articles mentioned below. Our point of view was disseminated on our website and we encourage people to use our mobile application to record audio descriptions of their Instagram (and soon other social media applications) photos and let our platform for desktop browsers organize the images in an accessible way, according to accessibility standards of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and prepared for screen readers used by the visually impaired. In this way people who decide to use our app and record their audio descriptions will have a URL of our site with their same Instagram user names, but with their photos followed by the audio descriptions they have made. We are building a participatory community with a focus on digital/social inclusion of visually impaired people.

Award

In the context of Coding for Social Impact, Blindscript received prominence among the most relevant projects in social impact, which accredited us to present our idea at the event Talk a Bit 2018.

Research Papers

The paper Audio Description on Instagram: Evaluating and Comparing Two Ways of Describing Images for Visually Impaired was an important piece to designing our idea. In this article, on future research section a paragraph stands out:

"As for Instagram WEB version (referred to in this paper as an opportunity for the visually impaired to access this network), modifications should be made in order to offer new audio description resources. In this case, the focus would be on offering users forms of searching and identifying images which have audio description and allowing users to listen to them. Additionally, it would be interesting to create a new form of interaction in which the visually impaired user could send a request to the author of an image so that he would record an audio description, in case it had not been made yet. Besides being a form of increasing the volume of audio described images, this resource still establishes a new form of contact between the visually impaired and other users on Instagram."

Other guidelines followed during the development of our platform are described in the work Checklist of accessibility in Web informational environments which, as the name says, provides a checklist whose purpose is to use it in information search evaluation processes, where organizational structure of sites, navigability and information retrieval can be evidenced, implying the identification of the particularities of user interactions with blindness.

Last page update: 2017-10-29

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