Sunday, 2 October 2011

First Reflections on Using MyDocStore

For the last couple of weeks I have been out on the road demonstrating and trialling the MyDocStore prototype with students, users and assistive technology experts. It's been a great experience, a chance to learn about the potential of MyDocStore. What has also been exciting is seeing the impact that new mobile technologies and the Cloud are bringing to visually impaired users when they are linked together in a simple, accessible tool.

I have had the privilege of observing 2 blind users navigate and use the iPhone and our app using VoiceOver. And, combining this with the MyDocStore app, they were able to quickly access documents when away from their computer. For one user that meant being able to read the PDF manual for his new portable Braille display on his iPhone with his device. In the orignal PDF format he couldn't boookmark important pages, but MyDocStore quickly converted it to an ePub file and delivered it to his iPhone.

MyDocStore iphone app downloading a new file

I've learnt why getting accessible documents onto portable devices can give so much freedom to those with visual impairments. Another user was able to hold an iPad close to him - less tiring and more liberating than sitting in front of a computer; for another it meant the possibility of transforming text into large print in one step, opening the world of books and information to him.

It was also interesting to see how those with dyslexia had very different reactions to those who have visual impairment. The students I met with dyslexia at one university were looking for font and style changes and had great expectations of success as they were used to working with PDFs and changing their settings in Microsoft Word. They were surprised at the success of making an Mp3 recording from the documents and the convenience of it appearing automatically on a phone.

We are still pulling together all the feedback we have received and hope to post more comments here soon.

Abi James, MyDocStore Project