DMT Lab receives grant to develop accessibility features for Adobe Creative Cloud Software

The Digital Media Technology (DMT) Lab was awarded a grant from the Adobe Fund for Design to develop accessibility features across Adobe platforms, which allows individuals with physical impairments to more easily utilise Adobe Creative Cloud applications.

The Adobe Fund for Design supports developers in building new tools to help shape the future of design. The grant is enabling the DMT Lab to apply their research towards developing inclusive creative software experiences.

The core output of the project will be a software interface such as a plugin for Adobe XD, which will enable designers with physical impairments to produce high-quality design work through alternative input methods, such as eye gaze.

Providing accessibility for creative disciplines

Effective use of mainstream design applications (i.e. Adobe XD and Adobe Photoshop) requires high-precision control by individuals, often through the use of traditional devices such as a mouse, keyboard, or stylus. This can actively exclude or deter creatives with physical impairments to invest time into creative activities.

Such lack of inclusivity can impact all levels of design, from disabled students who are interested in developing their creative careers, to hobbyists and professional designers who may have been affected by a disability later in life.

The paradox lies in that idea that while creative software provides tools for producing accessible designs, accessibility for designers is often overlooked. Dr Chris Creed (Principle Investigator) supports this idea:

“Accessible solutions within this domain can help to stimulate sector growth and present new creative opportunities for disabled people.”

Combining ease of use with pinpoint precision

Utilising technology that tracks eye movements to interact with the software, the interface developed will increase the level of control disabled users have within Adobe XD (a prototyping application).

This work builds on the Lab’s body of research in accessible computing systems which has produced a new eye-gaze controlled prototype that enables creatives with physical impairments to easily manipulate digital software. This provides alternative methods for users to perform common design activities that has already received positive feedback from disabled users.

A new version of the prototype is currently being developed by the team and will soon be tested in close collaboration with key stakeholders, to ensure its usability for producing professional design work by people with physical impairments.

Dr Creed stated: “We’re delighted to be awarded this grant from Adobe that will support our ongoing research around the development of inclusive creative visual design experiences for disabled people. The opportunity to apply our research within a leading mainstream commercial application is hugely exciting and holds significant potential to transform creative opportunities for marginalised groups who may have been excluded to date from the wider sector”.