Background: Throughout the project, we were in touch with an active citizens’ group called “Visionaries” , which aims to bridge the gap between the visually impaired and those who seek to help them. We got in touch with Ankit via the group, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and discussed at length the challenges faced by visually impaired (VI) people. Ankit called himself “a person of technology” instead of a visually impaired person and gave us recommendations on making our kit, website and app VI friendly.
Feedback: He suggested that we keep different audio alerts in the kit while different processes take place. A special audio cue for the result - for example a beep sound - apart from the visual alert can be very helpful for the visually challenged. This also helps make the kit easy to use for a wider group of people / lab technicians, especially in rural areas which do not have adequate medical facilities and professionals on site. Thus, it becomes more important to make our kit as inclusive as possible so that the number of potential people who could potentially use this does not decrease even further.
Implementation: Our current website also keeps in mind the difficulties a visually impaired person may face and hence uses high contrast write-up and background. We have also tried to explain our project via proper headings and text that can be navigated through the keyboard and be read by text to speech applications commonly used by VI people in India. Additionally, we have kept long texts on the website downloadable in PDF format so that they can read it through a screen reader at their convenience. We specifically received many inputs for our app as the VI community in India relies and is well-versed with their phones for daily use. Simple steps can make the navigation through apps better for them but are not usually incorporated. Screen readers do not explain a picture and add the word “image” whenever it is encountered. We aim to have clear alternative text for pictures and flowcharts which will help them understand the visual concepts. The buttons and widgets on the app can be properly labelled and the results will be displayed in visual, textual as well as audio formats. Our future plan to be implemented includes communicating results via a gif in Indian Sign Language for people with hearing impairments.