We present a multimodal physics simulation, including visual and auditory (description, sound effects, and sonification) modalities to support the diverse needs of learners. We describe design challenges and solutions, and findings from final simulation evaluations with learners with and without visual impairments. We also share insights from completing research with members of diverse learner groups (N = 52). This work presents approaches for designing and evaluating accessible interactive simulations for learners with diverse needs.
Auditory Display in Interactive Science Simulations: Description and Sonification Support Interaction and Enhance Opportunities for Learning
Science simulations are widely used in classrooms to support inquiry-based learning of complex science concepts. These tools typically rely on interactive visual displays to convey relationships. Auditory displays, including verbal description and sonification (non-speech audio), combined with alternative input capabilities, may provide an enhanced experience for learners, particularly learners with visual impairment. We completed semi-structured interviews and usability testing with eight adult learners with visual impairment for two audio-enhanced simulations. We analyzed trends and edge cases in participants' interaction patterns, interpretations, and preferences. Findings include common interaction patterns across simulation use, increased efficiency with second use, and the complementary role that description and sonification play in supporting learning opportunities. We discuss how these control and display layers work to encourage exploration and engagement with science simulations. We conclude with general and specific design takeaways to support the implementation of auditory displays for accessible simulations.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 1 - 12
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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