CollabAlly: Accessible Collaboration Awareness in Document Editing

Cheuk Yin Phipson Lee, Zhuohao Zhang, Jaylin Herskovitz, Joo Young Seo, Anhong Guo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Collaborative document editing tools are widely used in professional and academic workplaces. While these tools provide basic accessibility support, it is challenging for blind users to gain collaboration awareness that sighted people can easily obtain using visual cues (e.g., who is editing where and what). Through a series of co-design sessions with a blind coauthor, we identified the current practices and challenges in collaborative editing, and iteratively designed CollabAlly, a system that makes collaboration awareness in document editing accessible to blind users. CollabAlly extracts collaborator, comment, and text-change information and their context from a document and presents them in a dialog box to provide easy access and navigation. CollabAlly uses earcons to communicate background events unobtrusively, voice fonts to differentiate collaborators, and spatial audio to convey the location of document activity. In a study with 11 blind participants, we demonstrate that CollabAlly provides improved access to collaboration awareness by centralizing scattered information, sonifying visual information, and simplifying complex operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450391573
StatePublished - Apr 29 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2022 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Apr 30 2022May 5 2022

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online


  • accessibility
  • Blind
  • collaboration awareness
  • Collaborative writing
  • earcon
  • screen reader
  • spatial audio
  • visual impairment
  • voice font

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software


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