Design Guidelines for Web Interfaces of Home Automation Systems Accessible via Screen Reader
Home Automation Systems (HAS) – also referred to as smart homes – exploit multiple components such as sensors, RFID readers, wireless devices, and remote control systems to enable easy interaction with smart appliances and devices, and to automate performing sequences of tasks to make human-device interaction simpler and life more comfortable. For people with vision impairment, especially those who are unable to see at all, smart homes can be a powerful tool for enhancing personal autonomy, provided that the system offers suitable device integration and accessible interfaces with a simple interaction via keyboard, assistive technology and other modalities such as voice and gestures.
This paper investigates the accessibility of web interfaces when interacting with HAS components via screen reader assistive technology, in order to propose potential suggestions to developers. Web interfaces are particularly considered in this study in order to support screen reader users who are not yet skilled in using touch-screen devices. Specifically, based on collected accessibility and usability issues, as well as users’ expectations and preferences, a Web-based prototype has been designed and optimized especially for interaction via screen reader. After describing an evaluation conducted with a small group of skilled screen reader users, several guidelines are suggested for designers of HAS interfaces.
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