Collaborative Cross-modal interfaces (CCmI): Accessible Diagrams for Workplace Inclusion (2010/2012)

Sponsored by EPSRC Research in the Wild/ Role: Researcher Co-Investigator


Collaboration is a fundamental form of human interaction. However, software tools which support collaboration assume that all collaborators have access to the same sets of modalities. For example, audio-video conferencing systems assume all participants can see and hear the outputs of the system, and shared whiteboards assume equal access to the visual modality. This disadvantages users with differing access to sensory channels due to their context and abilities. It is a critical problem for distributed team work where participants are likely to use different communication technologies to collaborate (e.g. mobile teamwork) as well as co-located work groups involving elderly participants or participants with perceptual impairments (e.g. visual impairments). 

The CCmI project will refine and adapt my PhD work to demonstrate its utility for improving the accessibility of collaboration in real world scenarios. The challenge is to design support for collaboration where participants have differing access to modalities – we refer to these situations as cross-modal collaboration. We are working with the Royal National Institute of the Blind [RNIB] and the British Computer Association of the Blind [BCAB] to explore how to support visually impaired and sighted co-workers in the context of editing diagrams in the software engineering workplace. [MORE] on the CCmI Home page.