ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing | VOL. 15

Ally: Understanding Text Messaging to Build a Better Onscreen Keyboard for Blind People

Publication Date Oct 22, 2022


Millions of people worldwide use smartphones every day, but the standard issue QWERTY keyboard is poorly optimized for non-sighted input. In this article, we document the variety of methods blind people use to enter text into their smartphones, and focus on one particular need: sending text messages. We analyze two modern corpora of text messages and contrast them with an older text message corpus, as well as other corpora gathered from news articles, chat rooms, and books. We present a virtual keyboard for blind people optimized for sending text messages called Ally. To evaluate Ally, we conducted two user studies with blind participants. Our first study found increasing speeds and our second study found that half of participants reached comparable speeds to QWERTY, suggesting it may be a viable replacement. We conclude with a discussion of future work for non-sighted text-entry of text messages.


Text Messages People Worldwide Use Sending Text Messages Chat Rooms Blind Participants Standard QWERTY Keyboard News Articles Standard QWERTY User Studies Blind People

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