SAP Labs Bulgaria has organized User Experience (UX) Week locally for the third consecutive year. The UX Week is event with the purpose of spreading and sharing knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm about all things user experience.

For the second year in UX Week have been included sessions and events related to accessibility.

Why the accessibility is included in the UX Week?

About 10% of all people have eye problems and use screen readers to use the digital devices (computers, mobile phones and etc.) . Sometimes it is difficult even to imagine how the world looks and how they deal with trivial actions such as sending email and reading the news.

That’s why in UX Week 2016 we included various events that simulate different eye diseases and allow our colleagues to step in the shoes of the people with visual disabilities. In these circumstances we asked the colleagues from Sofia Lab to perform specific actions from everyday life.

The aim is to be for short time in the place of the people who cannot see. To understand how they feel , how they use the software , what are the problems they encounter using these software  and also to understand what we personally can do in order to write accessible software.

Which were the accessibility events?

  • JAWS Challenge
  • Testing of glasses simulating various eye diseases
  • Accessibility testing of applications accomplished from a power user

Is JAWS Challenge dangerous?

JAWS Challenge is a game that simulates the use of computer from blind people. The players should send an email for registration in the lottery with prizes, but without looking at the screen – they can use only the keyboard, the scenario, printed on paper and JAWS screen reader. For this we used a Bluetooth keyboard and speakers while the laptop that they were connected to was hidden away.

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The prizes definitely caught their attention.

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Testing of glasses simulating various eye diseases

Colleagues from the Lab had opportunity to understand what visual impaired people see, when they suffer from any of the listed below diseases. For this purpose they used glasses imitating various eye diseases with which they looked at screens in different resolution ,different zoom and with different themes ( such as High Contrast Black theme ).

Here could be seen the list with eye diseases simulated from the glasses.

  • Retina Pigmentosa – This hereditary disease causes cone cells in the retina to die, and this leads to problems with the perception of light. As a result, peripheral vision is greatly reduced but in the visible part of the power of vision is kept at 100%.
  • Macular Degeneration – The result of this degenerative disease is impaired macula, which prevents seeing fine details. Peripheral vision remains unchanged, but for example. reading, even with glasses becomes almost impossible. It is necessary to use magnifying glasses or other adaptive devices.
  • Scotoma is an area of partial alteration in the field of vision consisting of a partially diminished or entirely degenerated visual acuity that is surrounded by a field of normal or relatively well-preserved vision. Scotomata differ in shapes and sizes and affect the vision differently depending on their position.
  • Hemianopsia – Symptom for this disease is a loss of half the visual field, on the same side or different side in both eyes.
  • Optic Nerve Atrophy – This disease impairs the optic nerve. This is often the result of glaucoma, and increased intraocular pressure. This results in a reduction or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • Cataracts – Cataract is darkeningof the lens, which impairs vision. Clouding of the natural lens makes it impossible to obtain a clear image on the retina.

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Accessibility testing of applications accomplished from a power user

The last day in the UX Week was for the  „Оpen usability and accessibility testing lab.

The accessibility testing had been executed from our colleague Pancho Karamanski. Pancho has been working in SAP Labs Bulgaria since 01 June 2015 as accessibility tester of the software produced in the Sofia Lab. His job is to share his experience about the accessibility and screen readers as a person who use accessibility software on a daily basis as he himself is. In the open lab day Pancho tested for accessibility the applications of our colleagues and gave them advice how to make their software easier to use by people using screen reader.

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The excitement  continued next week, when the names of the winners of the JAWS Challenge game were drawn in the lottery. Surprisingly the beer was the most desired reward despite the fact that there were pricier rewards. The colleagues shared that the knowledge they have acquired from the accessibility initiative was very useful for them and they had a lot of fun with the different accessibility events.

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