A universally designed and usable method for data visualization
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The goal of this thesis in general was to create a data visualization prototype for a mobile application called RevmaRApp which is targeted towards the use by people with rheumatoid arthritis conditions. The issues of accessibility of mobile applications and especially mHealth [sic](Jovanov, 2006) are raised in this thesis to represent a large section of the population who have impairments. The thesis targets the use of universal design techniques and standards to create accessible mobile applications. The literature review has suggested that there is very small amount of research in the field of accessible design and development of mobile applications. Therefore, this thesis focused on the efficiency of customization options such as change of user interface elements in terms of color, size etc. to make a mobile application more accessible. Another important aspect is the applicability and availability of data sorting mechanism in the mobile application and its effects on accessibility and universal design as well as usability. This thesis consisted of a prototype development phase and evaluation phase. These two phases were iterative in nature since the main development methodology was two-step methodology (unified methodology) (Billi et al., 2010) which was combined with iterative cycles such as Scrum. The evaluation strategy was also included in the initial phase of the thesis. Heuristic evaluation methods (Vetere, Howard, Pedell, & Balbo, 2003) were utilized to provide expert opinions combined with user testing information provided by the Norwegian Computing Center. An experiment was also conducted at the later stage of the thesis to understand the benefits and drawbacks of both prototypes and utilize this knowledge for future improvements. The first deliverable of this thesis was a universally designed prototype for data visualization. The second deliverable of this thesis was the results from the evaluations and experiment. The results showed that the new prototype was more accessible and easy to understand as well as use than old prototype. The data visualization technique used in the new prototype was easier to extract required data and review them as well. An experiment was conducted using Cambridge simulation gloves to simulate the affects of arthritis on hands and wrists using eighteen participants. The results from the experiment showed that for a majority of tasks for the new prototype was discovered to be significantly better than the old prototype. A semi-structured interview conducted after the experiment also reinforced the finding of the experiment through explanations and descriptions from the participants which shed some light on their preference for new prototype over the old one. However, there are still some improvements which are necessary to create a more accessible prototype. There are still some screen reader compatibility issues for the new prototype which needs further improvements, there are several issues regarding the multimodal means of communication such as speech input, use of tactile keyboard etc. Although the results from the experiment showed that the new prototype had significant benefits over the old one, it is still felt necessary that the use of real users along with a larger number of participants can provide more concrete evidence.
Master in Universal Design of ICT