Project completion

The project BlindBits will be successfully finished these days, by completing the final report. The whole project team of Austrian Institute of Technology, Bundes-Blindenerziehungsinstitut and University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria is pleased about two exciting years and a great project outcome.

BlindBits v1.0

Two smartphones will remain at the BBI, to ensure that the students can still play and evaluate the games after the official end of the project.

Two smartphones running the BlindBits Game and boxes covered with AIT and BlindBits stickers.

Final Evaluation

Smartphone with the Blind Bits application touching an NFC card mounted on the wall

In the last phase of the project, we extensively evaluated the BlindBits game once again with pupils. On the one hand, we compared playing in the virtual and real world in two workshops with altogether 17 pupils. On the other hand, we investigated how a potential help function for finding rooms while playing in the school building should be designed. Therefore we conducted single user evaluations with 15 pupils, which were so far not involved in the project. The final results led to some final changes in the BlindBits implementation.

Virtual vs. Real!

During the summer holidays the BlindBits team worked hard to improve the game and especially the virtual school building. Therefore at the beginning of the school year 2016/17 the designed games could be played in the real school and also in the virtual school building.

In workshops with the students of the HAS and OK class both modes (virtual building and real building) were played intensively. Valuable feedback for the final evaluation was gathered. Regarding preferred mode, the opinions differ whether real or virtual building provide a more interesting gameplay. Nevertheless all participants had great fun and enjoyed the games!

 

 

“Aktionstag” Workshop at the BBI

At the end of each school year the so called “Aktionstage” (action days) take place at the BBI. At the “Aktionstage” students can freely choose and attend different workshops.

The BlindBits project hosted a game design workshop. In the workshop students could try out the game editor and create their own games. The students designed and implemented great games, so at the end of the day the first games created by blind and visually impaired students were released. The games were called, “Monster in the BBI”, “The kidnapped Teacher” and “CR7″ (N.B. Christiano Ronaldo).

All participants enjoyed the workshop, and had a lot of fun designing games and playing games designed by other groups. In summer we will improve the editor and add some features. In autumn the next workshop will take place, in which hopefully more exciting games will be created!

 

 

Iterative Development in BlindBits

The BlindBits editor and player was developed in close cooperation with the students of the BBI in the school year 2015/16. The students could try the current state of BlindBits in six workshops at three points in time distributed over the school year. With their valuable feedback they could decisively co-determine the development in the project. There were also frequent meetings with the teachers of the BBI.

The task of the students in the workshop was to create game levels and pay attention to usability and accessibility issues. It was revealed that creating an editor which is usable and attractive for blind as well as visually impaired students is a great challenge.

PC user of the BlindBits editor

Playing the game levels in the school building was fun for most students. Therefore – similar to a scavenger hunt – they had to go to specific locations in the school building and read out game content stored on NFC tags.

Student reads out game content from a NFC tag

Talking Cards

Few accessible methods to support brainstorming sessions for blind and visually impaired users exist. We present an approach consisting of a smartphone application and tangible near field communication (NFC) cards enhanced with an additional layer by using different tactile materials. With the smartphone application, blind and visually impaired users can write information, like ideas in brainstorming sessions, on NFC cards using speech recognition or voice recording.

The set of Talking Cards, with different tactile overlays

The Android application is available for download:
http://blindbits.tech-experience.at/en/talking-cards/

The User Centered Design Process, and the evaluation have been presented at the Augmented Human 2016 conference
ACM Digital Library: TalkingCards: Using Tactile NFC Cards for Accessible Brainstorming

 

Idea- and Design-Workshops

The development within the project is in strong cooperation with the pupils of the BBI (school for the blind), thus we conducted idea- and design-workshops.

In two idea workshops with 14 pupils ideas for games were developed. There were plenty of great ideas ranging from “Zombies in the school” over “hidden teachers” to “escape from the school labyrinth”. The game ideas were analyzed and game mechanisms identified, that have to be supported by the editor for the creation of such games.

Subsequently two design-workshops with 17 pupils were conducted. At the begin pupils were instructed about the game mechanics and the possibilities of the level-editor. The game mechanics are on the one hand a virtual school in which the levels can be designed and played for test reasons. On the other hand it consists of a real world part where the gameplay takes part in the actual school building.

Afterwards navigation in the virtual school world and gameplay in the real world were tried by the pupils and discussed. Also further ideas for games using the proposed level-editor were discussed.

Next the level-editor and the game mechanics are implemented. In October pupils will have the chance to get their hands on the first version.