Graphics, including diagrams, maps, graphs and charts, are widely used to convey information in education, the workplace, for navigation and wayfinding, and for recreation. Reading, using and creating these graphics are important skills that most of us take for granted. For people who are blind or have very low vision, access to information graphics is more limited and was the subject of a study by PhD candidate, Cagatay Goncu of Monash University in partnership with Statewide Vision Resource Centre, Catholic Education Office, jTribe and Vision Australia.

Students who attend the SVRC’s Support Skills Program were invited to participate in this study. The aim was to develop a method of presenting graphics to students with vision impairments and resulted in the development of an iPad app and a custom designed haptic ring. A number of students who attend the SVRC Support Skills Program contributed their input into usability study; and their feedback assisted in the development and fine-tuning of GraVVITAS (Graphics Viewer using Vibration Interactive Touch and Speech).

GraVVITAS comprises:

  • GraViewer (Accessible graphics viewing application): The core of the GraVVITAS project is an app that present information graphics on the iPad. As the user explores the screen with their fingers, a mixture of speech and non-speech audio allows them to hear the graphic they are touching.
  • GraAuthor (Accessible graphics authoring tool): A web-based graphics authoring tool allows teachers, friends or family members to quickly create accessible graphics suitable for display with GraViewer.
  • GraCalc (Accessible graphing calculator): An accessible graphing calculator built on top of GraViewer. Simply specify a mathematical function and its line graph will be displayed on GraViewer.
  • GraGame (Accessible games): For those who want a little fun, there are games designed for blind people that are built on top of GraViewer. These are a great way to learn to use GraViewer.

GraVVITAS was awarded an honourable mention in the prestigious 2012 Touch of Genius Award given by the National Braille Press of USA.

For more information visit GraVVITAS.