Accessible Data Representations for Screen Reader Users

Lecture by Dr. Crystal Lee, Dr. Arvind Satyanarayan, and Jonathan Zong (MIT Visualization Group).

 Dr. Crystal Lee, Dr. Arvind Satyanarayan, and Jonathan Zong (MIT Visualization Group),

Join the AIAINetwork & Quantitative and Digital Humanities Speaker Series at Emory University on Thursday (4/14) at 4pm for a talk by Dr. Crystal Lee, Dr. Arvind Satyanarayan, and Jonathan Zong (MIT Visualization Group) on “Accessible Data Representations for Screen Reader Users”.


Full participation in the data analysis process is important for blind and low-vision (BLV) screen reader users, who are often excluded when conversations about data center on visual representations such as charts. However, even non-visual representations that follow web accessibility standards fail to afford the same level of self-guided data exploration that visualizations offer. We present recent work on the design of accessible data analysis interfaces. First, to help designers think systematically about accessible design, we developed a set of design dimensions for screen reader interfaces. These design dimensions are instantiated in the open source Olli toolkit. Second, to address the over-reliance of accessible authoring tools on visual specification, we designed Umwelt: an authoring environment for multimodal data representations that does not center the visual modality. Altogether, this work aims to support BLV data analysts in creating, exploring, and sharing data representations beyond visualization.


Arvind Satyanarayan
Arvind Satyanarayan is Associate Professor of Computer Science at MIT, and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He leads the MIT Visualization Group, which uses visualization as a lens to explore how software systems can enhance our creativity and cognition, while respecting our agency. Arvind’s work has been recognized with an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, an IEEE VGTC Significant New Researcher award, an NSF CAREER and Google Research Scholar award, best paper awards at academic venues (e.g., ACM CHI and IEEE VIS), and honorable mentions amongst practitioners (e.g., Kantar’s Information is Beautiful Awards). Visualization systems he has helped develop are widely used in industry (including at Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix), on Wikipedia, and by the Jupyter/Python data science communities.

Crystal Lee
Crystal Lee is an assistant professor at MIT and a faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, where she works broadly on research related to ethical tech, social media, data visualization, and disability. She also holds a senior fellowship in responsible computing at Mozilla and is currently writing a book titled Adventures on the Embodied Internet.

Jonathan Zong
Jonathan Zong is a computer scientist and visual artist who uses design to understand and re-imagine socio-technical systems. He is a Ph.D. Candidate at MIT with the Visualization Group, and an affiliate of the Cornell Citizens and Technology Lab. In his research, Jonathan partners with blind collaborators and study participants to co-design interfaces for non-visual data exploration. He also develops software and conceptual frameworks for managing the ethics of consent in large-scale social media data collection. Jonathan’s work has been recognized by the MIT Morningside Academy for Design Fellowship, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Scientists. As a practicing artist, his work has been exhibited at events and venues including MIT’s Wiesner Gallery, the Marcel Broodthaers Society of America, and the Centre National du Graphisme.