Approaching physical user experience as a total novice

As part of a project that I am involved with, I am currently trying to design some hardware. It is mainly casing around the components but it is completely new experience for me. I have never tried building anything for a person with visual impairments before, let alone a user experience. It is certainly a steep learning curve.

I have been looking at the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s website and their range of accessibility training. It seems to go from building to website and application accessibility. Yet it does not quite appear to have guides to building buttons or sensors.

Searches for universal design for accessibility pointed me towards the Usability First website with the principles of design. The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design’s page on public access terminals is the best site I have come across so far.

It seems paradoxical but there it is.

Having started this post a couple of weeks ago, the project has moved to a pure software solution for various reasons. Yet the same issues apply: how does one test the out interface as a person with visual impairments?

So far we seem to be looking at manual testing and then using feedback, perhaps with some live coding for a rapid feedback. It would seem to be a “blind” spot in terms of development. Robotics comes up as an idea to solve the issue but that raises other issues but the sustainable approach is an important one.

This something that may come up in my talk at the Research Software Engineer Conference. This is ongoing work though.


Background music in podcasts

Music can be an interesting topic for audio, such as podcasts and so on. It is something that I have a passing interest in for other purposes. Pitchfork magazine has an article on the issue reflecting on luminary podcasts such as This American Life, The Secrets of Successful Podcast Music.


Studying at the Sussex Humanities Lab

It is with an absolute joy that I’m going to the Sussex Humanities Laboratory at Sussex University to do a PhD in the autumn. I recently gained an MSc in Software Engineering at Oxford. I have been trying to do more in Digital Humanities and this was an opportunity that I could not miss really, […]


Sometimes the project is for turning

In a speech to the Conservative Party in 1980, Margaret Thatcher said that the “lady’s not for turning”. Projects are not always like this. Recently a decision was made to change direction completely. A project meeting was held and a demonstration of some technology shown that followed the agreed project path. In the following conversation, […]


Continuing on the path to better reproducible work

Last year I had the pleasure of helping Julia Stewart Lowndes at a Software Carpentry style workshop in Oxford. I got notice of her paper, Our path to better science in less time using open data science tools, [1] via various means and made time to read the other day. It describes the path taken […]


Looking into profiling Python

Periodically I get back to profiling code, or at least some of it. Profiling is an tricky art: I do not claim expertise but it is something that I come back to every so often. In a previous project I used strace to follow the ins and outs of a very long running process (about […]


Week Notes 31 March

Having managed to damage myself at the end of last week, I forgot to write a week notes. We have made progress on the Museum’s project in a slightly surprising way but more on that in due course. Talks have been written for submission. The work itself has helped the main project and I really […]


Week Notes 13th March

After taking a few days off post dissertation submission, I have ended up using formal definitions within some Linked Data work that I am involved in. To some degree, I have largely avoided them so that I can get on with writing the code. This project has gone in a different manner where the definition […]


Week Notes 6 March

Last week, I mentioned the Museums project and writing a phone app to test touch through the Android APIs. An annoying bug turned out to be small and easily fixed and, whilst testing, I wrote a small Python and Gnuplot script to plot the way that the fingers moved in a 2d graph. It would […]


Week Notes 27th Feb

Last week was an intriguing one and this is written later than one might like. I’m currently working on a Museums project and am currently writing some code to track how items are touched using the internal sensors on an Android phone. It is my first Android project so is a learning experience but an […]