Blind and low-vision travelers use apps such as Microsoft Soundscape and Blindsquare to build a richer awareness of their surroundings and thus become more confident and empowered to get around. Unlike step-by-step navigation apps such as Google Maps, Soundscape uses 3D audio codes to enrich environmental awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment. These apps make it easy to control their functions by changing the usual media controls (play / pause, rewind and forward) to provide important information on request while commuting. While these can be relied on with the help of media controls on headphones, it may not be so hassle-free to stop using their stick and tap these controls while on the move.
This inspired us to create an "Around Me" keypad that allows blind and low-vision travelers to easily access the features of this app and their phone with the click of these buttons. These buttons can also potentially be clamped to the stick.
This project is jointly created by Jazz Ang, Ana Liu & Venkatesh Potluri.
Accessibility Button Overview
In these sets of instructions, you would create the following six buttons:
Play / Pause (of media players and videos)
When Microsoft Soundscape is in the background starting (or pausing) the synthesized binaural sound, such as heart-beating audio signals from Soundscape, and audio messages about where the user is located. Playback / pause works by activating with the media player running in the background.
This button turns off (and turns off) the volume.
When the Soundscape is in the background, it describes interesting places in front of you, for example when you walk in the street. On music / video player, the button plays the next song or video.
Similarly, this button plays previously interesting places on Soundscape and plays the previous song or video.
This button acts as the home button on your phone, it takes users back to the main screen.
This button will be connected to the iOS switch control options that can be configured to act as the switch to select in switch control mode. This will be set later.