Accessible Graphics: Graphics for Vision Impaired People

Graphics are widely used in newspapers, text books, web pages, metro maps, instruction manuals etc. When appropriate they can provide significant cognitive benefits over text. And, their use is set to increase as interactive information visualisation applications become more mainstream.

Unfortunately, graphics are not easily accessed by people with severe vision impairment. There have been many different approaches to solve this problem using tactile, tactile-audio, haptic and speech/non-speech audio techniques. However, current approaches have limitations such as the cost of translating into an accessible graphics format, use of expensive tactile graphics or expensive peripheral devices, or lack of congruence with the original visual graphic.

It is fair to say that lack of access to diagrams and other graphical content significantly limits educational and workplace opportunities for visually impaired people as well as access to popular media. This is in contrast with textual content in which computer applications such as screen readers have dramatically improved access.

We believe accessible graphics is at a watershed and that recent advances in interface technologies, such as low cost haptic feedback devices, touch screens etc, have the potential to greatly improve access to graphics by the vision impaired in the next decade. How to do this and the potential benefits for people with vision impairment are the subject of this one day workshop.



The workshop aims to bring together researchers in the diagrams community, who are interested in the cognitive benefits of graphics and accessible graphics, with researchers and developers of new interface technologies (haptic, audio etc) that can support accessible graphics, as well as practitioners from organizations responsible for providing accessible graphics.

The workshop will consist of short presentations and demonstrations by workshop attendees intermixed with breakout discussions to answer questions such as: 

  • What don’t we know about cognition of accessible graphics and how could we find out?
  • How best can we preserve the cognitive benefits of visual graphics in accessible representations?
  • How best can we provide low-cost, portable accessible graphics?
  • How can we support interaction and dynamic content in accessible graphics?
  • What presentation technologies are feasible for mainstream use in the next 5 years?
  • How can we create accessible graphic content quickly and cheaply? 
  • What are the limitations of current technologies?
  • How useful are accessible graphics in learning? 
  • How can we use graphics between sighted and blind people in collaborative educational and work places?

If you are interested in giving a presentation or demonstration at the workshop please submit a 1 page proposal via EasyChair

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by members of the workshop committee.


  • Presentation proposals: April 16, 2012
  • Notification: May 4, 2012
  • Early registration: May 11, 2012
  • Camera ready copy: May 25, 2012
  • Workshop: Friday, July 6, 2012

* All deadlines are at 11:59pm (23:59) UTC


We identified three broad areas that we will focus on in the workshop: experience/Practice, perception and technology. Each session is to start with presentations which will be 15 minutes including questions, followed by about a 45 minute workshop discussion. 

In the workshop discussions we plan to split into smaller groups. Each group will discuss the issues in the areas and will identify three major challenges in that particular area (15 minutes). Afterwards, each group will select a person to share their comments with the rest of the participants (5 minutes). And in the final half hour we will try to merge all the comments and identify the fundamental challenges in the field and how we plan to address them.

Below is the program:

09:00 Introduction

Experience/Practice session
09:15 Graphicacy: Reading More Than Words, Dawn Wilkinson and Lucia Hasty.
09:30 Introducing young congenitally blind learners to ‘sighted’ conventions used in tactile drawings and diagrams: some useful tools, Boguslaw Marek.
09:45 "I don’t want to live in a text-only world." Blind People’s Experiences of Access to Graphical Information at Work, John Ramm and Frances Aldrich.
10:00 Accessible images: current reality and future research opportunities, Sarah Morley Wilkins and Dave Gunn.
10:15 Digital Image and Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials, Lucia Hasty.
10:30 Group discussions
10:45 Group comments
10:50 Challenges
11:15 Break

Preception session
11:30 Towards Comprehension of Haptic Multiple-Line Graphs, Christopher Habel and Cengiz Acarturk.
11:45 Accessing mathematical and scientific concepts through tactile Law Encoding Diagrams, Peter Cheng.
12:00 Could vibration make tactile graphics more effective?, Richard Lowe.
12:15 Group discussions
12:30 Group comments
12:35 Challenges
13:00 Lunch

Technology session
14:15 Talking Tactile Pen, Lucia Hasty and Bernat Franquesa.
14:30 Making Flowcharts Accessible to the Blind, Sina Bahram.
14:45 GraVVITAS: Accessible Graphics for Visually Impaired People, Cagatay Goncu and Kim Marriott.
15:00 Accessible Collaborative Interaction with Diagrams, Oussama Metatla, Nick Bryan-Kinns, Tony Stockman and Fiore Martin.
15:15 Positing a multi-modal approach to teaching diagram construction to visually impaired people, Beryl Plimmer.
15:30 Group discussions
15:45 Group comments
15:50 Challenges
16:15 Break

16:30 Open forum
17:15 Closing remarks


Authors of accepted presentations or demonstrations will be invited to provide an abstract for the workshop proceedings. These will be available at the workshop. The proceedings will be published by CEUR and will be available after the workshop.

We also plan to invite workshop participants to contribute to a special issue on accessible graphics. 


Attendees can either register for the workshop only or for the Diagrams conferences and workshops.

Click here for detais.


The workshop and the main conference will be held on the same location. It will be possible to book the accommodation for only the workshop date.

Click here for details.


  • Frances Aldrich, University of Sussex
  • Richard Cox, University of Sussex
  • Alistair Edwards, University of York
  • Stephanie Elzer, Millersville University
  • Dave Gunn, RNIB, UK
  • Simon Harper, University of Manchaster
  • Richard Ladner, University of Washington
  • Deb Lewis, DEECD, AUS
  • Ric Lowe, Curtin University
  • Boguslaw Marek, University of Lubnin
  • Kathleen F. McCoy, University of Delaware
  • Beryl Plimmer, University of Auckland
  • Metin Sezgin, Koc University
  • Atsushi Shimojima, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
  • Hironobu Takagi, IBM Research
  • Gerhard Weber, TU Dresden


If you have any questions, please contact or Cagatay Goncu.