“Customization is Key”: Reconfigurable Content Tokens for Accessible Data Visualizations

ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2024

Two different customizations of Olli hierarchies for a chart showing five technology companies’ stock prices between 2000 and 2010. (a) the visualization; (b) a customization that includes more tokens, with longer brevity, more suitable for novice users who need additional assistance in forming the correct mental model of the graph; (c) a customization with fewer, brief tokens more suitable for an expert user who might have a well-formed mental model of the chart.


Customization is crucial for making visualizations accessible to blind and low-vision (BLV) people with widely-varying needs. But what makes for usable or useful customization? We identify four design goals for how BLV people should be able to customize screen-reader-accessible visualizations: presence, or what content is included; verbosity, or how concisely content is presented; ordering, or how content is sequenced; and, duration, or how long customizations are active. To meet these goals, we model a customization as a sequence of content tokens, each with a set of adjustable properties. We instantiate our model by extending Olli, an open-source accessible visualization toolkit, with a settings menu and command box for persistent and ephemeral customization respectively. Through a study with 13 BLV participants, we find that customization increases the ease of identifying and remembering information. However, customization also introduces additional complexity, making it more helpful for users familiar with similar tools.