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HABOS: Towards a platform of haptic-audio based online shopping for the visually impaired

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Abstract

As more and more retailers offer their products for sale online, their web-based content is becoming increasingly visual and complex for visually impaired persons to access, navigate, and interpret when using current accessibility technologies such as screen reader, voice browser and Braille display. This hindered their independence to go online to shop. In this paper, a study on whether visually impaired people can shop online independently is presented. An online store prototype which has shopping features such as shopping cart, product catalogue, online forms and payment system was developed for this purpose. The shopping features were designed to enrich the web-based data with haptic and audio properties. This paper examined and reported results on a website design which could enable the visually impaired to navigate, access, interpret and haptically interact with the web content; and on a product catalogue system which could enable the visually impaired to shop without assistance. Some of our qualitative analysis suggests that a consistent three-section webpage design with static content along with the aid of directional cues and audio information are feasible to design online shopping website for visually impaired. Also, for effective haptic evaluation of online products, the complete model and different parts of the model should be rendered separately in order to provide the user with a better perception about the product.