3.1. Research

Blog post objectives
Research inclusive design (applications of inclusive design)— introduction and validation of problem you choose — 400 words + references.

Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)

“The development of a reliable [indoor] positioning and navigational system will reduce the suffering of the people with visual disabilities, help them live more independently, and promote their employment opportunities.”

Yicheng (2014).

Where GPS fails, IPS takes over (MapsPeople, n.d.; Ray, 2018; Senion, n.d.-a). Apple Maps are entering the space with comprehensive features demonstrated in this US Today video:

IPS makes the experience of commercial, cultural and heritage spaces more engaging (Bluepath, 2017; Senion, n.d.-b). And as an assistive technology it enables (IT Craft, n.d.; Right-Hear, 2018).

Using Bluetooth beacons and smartphone sensors, IPS are reasonably accurate (Yicheng, 2014). They can integrate guidance of, and communication between people, products, and information (Figure 1.).

bluetooth beacon transmition diagram
Figure 1. Bluetooth beacons or wi-fi access points triangulate a device’s position

Aria is an alternative synchronous video streaming service featuring sighted assistants (Aria, n.d.) (see the YouTube video below). Although effective (NCBI, n.d.-a), Aira is expensive for everyday use. (CNBC, 2017).

Existing Solutions

A brief competitor analysis explored what is available. As most applications required signing in to accounts or venues, none were experienced. See Figure 2.

Figure 2. Competitor analysis highlights.

When required to sign in to an account or venue there is no opportunity to experience the UI before using it live (Figure 2.1.).

Screengrab of an application validation page
Figure 2.1. The Indoo.rs front page is impenetrable without a security key provided at a venue.

At Figure 2.2., the indoo.rs application presents a route passing through walls, waterfalls, fire pits, or other impossible obstructions and the Menu is absorbed by the graphics. There are no zoom controls. Orientation is absolute and not relative?

Screen grab of a floor plan in the indoo.rs application
Figure 2.2. The indoo.rs application map view (Google Play, 2019).

At Figure 2.3., the Senion IPS system hardware and sofware solution (StepInside) models what is possible.

Mock ups of the Senion indoor positioning application
Figure 2.3. A Senion IPS UI mock-up (Senion, n.d.-c) and and StepInside screen grab (Apple App Store, n.d.)

At Figure 2.4., Apple’s Indoor Mapping Data Format (IMDF) (Apple, 2019.) usefully integrates IPS within Apple Maps.

Screen grab of an indoor mapping system
Figure 2.4. Screen grab from Safe Software’s IMDF compliant solution (Safe Software, n.d.).

Project Focus

IPS platforms offer enterprise and service users (such as partially sighted and blind users) opportunities to experience independence. Blindness is explored briefly at Figure 3.

IPS applications exist. The focus is to explore opportunities to accommodate blind users within an inclusive design.

Figure 3. Blindness

We can each become blind through trauma, disease, or degeneration.

Blindness is best defined functionally or sociologically and not physically or medically (Jernigan, 2005).

Blindness is not what disables: its difficulties are. They reduce our independence and require the learning of many new skills for daily living that take physical and cognitive effort.

Support is not always available from family, employers, or benefits. In Ireland, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) charity is the national sight loss agency.

The NCBI’s Mission closely resembles the aims of universal design:

“To enable people who are blind and vision impaired to overcome the barriers that impede their independence and participation in society.”

NCBI (n.d.-b.)

How blind users employ the iPhone

You can search a large number of YouTube videos for examples of how blind users employ their iPhones.

The first included here demonstrates iOS Siri’s capability to respond to accented English and our blind users’ ability to adapt to UI systems.

The second video features the inspirational and entertaining TEDx presentation by computer programmer, Austin Seraphin. He’s blind.

The third video features Cheiko Asakawa, who has influenced this project since first listening to this TEDx presentation. Cheiko is also a blind programmer and has developed a smartphone IPS application that narrows the gap between what does or does not disable a blind person.

Inclusive and Universal design

The benefit of inclusive and universal design is discussed at Figure 4. It aims to support our users regardless of their physical or cognitive ability.

Figure 4. Inclusive and accessible design.

An inclusive application environment benefits our blind or visually acute users although accessible design may not be essential in all cases (Cooper, Reimann, Cronin, & Noessel, 2014, p.399).

An accessible product depends on both accessible user agents and accessible content (W3C, 2015) needing to be:

  • Perceivable.
  • Operable.
  • Understandable.

(W3C, 2012).


Accessible and usable products benefit everyone (Henry, 2019; Sydik 2007). Any user may become less able through their environment and circumstance (Soegaard, 2019). It’s user-centric design (Godfrey, 2018).

Assistive technologies and improved production standards blur the  experience of able and less-able users. Accessible digital products may even be more difficult to access. (Ramakrishnan, Ashok, & Billah, 2017).

Customers expect inclusive design and nudge Fogg’s (2008) cost vs. benefit toward delight. (See Figure 4.1.). The accessibility strategy must only support existing operating system adjuncts (Cooper et al, 2014).

Image text on Fogg's Diamond of emotion
Figure 4.1. Fogg’s (2008) Diamond of Emotion.

Reduced effort

Uncoordinated browser technologies caused accessibility and usability issues. Browser vendors now participate with W3C’s WCAG reducing design, engineering, and testing effort (caveat operating system complications from time to time).

Creativity across the team

Colour choices, visual styles, typography, and imagery support our users’ experience when our users perceive it. The architectures beneath the presentation layer are essential to a delightful experience.

Visual design supports the universal experience of our digital brand and services only when combined with:

  • Quality content,
  • Semantic scripting for content, presentation, and function,
  • Accessible adjuncts (for example, Accessible Rich Internet Applications – ARIA). (See W3C, 2017),
  • Micro-data,
  • Data security and efficiency.

Or their script language equivalents. Designing our users’ inclusive experience promotes a 100% UX team approach.

Guidance and governance

There is much to consider in the realms of accessible UX (see Figure 5, or a text version of the mind map).

mind map
Figure 5. A 5-minute mind-mapping exercise listing considerations for an accessible user experience.

W3C’s inclusive Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are an internationally and commercially respected ISO/IEC 40500 standard (ISO, 2012). They offer a framework on which to measure accessibility and discrimination law success criteria (EUR-Lex, 2016; GOV.UK, 2015.; Irish Statute Book (2005), U.S General Services Administration, 2018).

Mobile device accessibility issues

  • Screen size (navigation, low vision magnification, UI control size).
  • Accessibility APIs needed for the platform.
  • Battery life.
  • Touch screens and users with prosthetic fingers, etc.
  • More gestures required for navigation. This becomes significant for users with RSI.
  • Variations in on-screen keyboards.
  • No keyboard shortcuts or control keys.

(W3C, 2012)

Device-dependent guidance

Angular Resolution (see Figure 6.) disconnects size guidance for Desktop UI and mobile devices. Environments affect contrast ratios, etc. too. WCAG is to reflect these differences more accurately (W3C, 2015; Web Accessibility Initiative, 2019).

Diagram of cone of vision expanding over distance from eye to phone to tablet to desktop
Figure 6. Angular resolution. The cone of vision is larger over distance so closer objects can be smaller.

Hoober (2013) notes Points are not a physical size. Apple’s iOS minimum touch target of 44 points is not a physical measurement. When we touch, Hoober finds smaller targets and fonts are possible on displays held closer. (See Figure 7.).

Assembly of images illustrating touch targets and Hoober's (2013) recommended font and touch target sizes.
Figure 7. The visual size of a button icon may vary across devices where its touch target size will remain the same. Adapted from Hoober (2013).

The BBC (2017) suggest 44 Points is the equivalent to a physical size of 7 to 10 mm, which should be programatically configured to scale up or down.

Screen resolutions exacerbate differences between physical measurements and digital units. Can our users use our UI accurately in their environment? Test.

Accessibility Adjuncts

Apple’s iOS accessibility adjuncts aim to enable visually impaired users to navigate applications. Even iOS applications display mixed results.

For example, increasing the font size fails to affect tab bar (navigation) or other system UI elements or to act universally on visible copy texts See Figure 8.). Apple may expect users to combine the adjunct with others such as Voiceover. Perhaps the adjunct selection or application design should be improved?

Figure 8. Examining the effects of Apple’s Larger Text setting across applications.

The application of the iOS larger text is inconsitent across applications and within application presentations.

Figure 8.1. compares the effect on Apple’s iTunes vs. Yahoo Mail menus. Apple’s font presentation is enlarged in the application display, yet the system tab bar copy text remains at 8 Points.

screen grabs comparing their accessible font sizes in iOS
Figure 8.1. Comparing the effect of iOS Large Text on UI: Apple iTunes vs. Yahoo Mail.

At Figure 8.2., Google’s Chrome browser menu displays the larger text. Noteabley, the Search / URL input box copy text is also made larger and the interactive button icons are not.

screen grab of Google Chrome with large text applied
Figure 8.2. The effects of Large Text on Google Chrome UI.

Figure 8.3. illustrates enlarged text on Google’s Maps in their own application, and with no effect in the ESB’s Google Maps plug-in. Google’s Search copy text is not enlarged. Neither enables the tab bar copy texts to be enlarged.

screen grabs comparing their accessible font sizes in iOS
Figure 8.3. Comparing the effect of iOS Large Text on UI: Google Maps vs. ESB’s Google Map.

For the Visually Impaired?

As for anything in design, it depends on our users. Working a UI from memory and without visual assistance to accuracy, the blind may find fewer and larger targets more usable. (See Figure 9.).

blind woman using an indoor navigation user interface with buttons positioned  in each corner of the phone screen
Figure 9. Chieko Asakawa places UI buttons at the four corners of her indoor navigation application. Screen grab from Ted (2015).


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