Non-visual programming, perceptual culture and MulSeMedia: case studies of five blind computer programmers

Simon Hayhoe

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

13 Citations (SciVal)


This chapter describes an investigation into the premise that blind programmers and web-developers can create modern Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) through perceptions of MulSeMedia, and whether perceptual culture has a role in this understanding. Its purpose it to: 1) investigate whether the understanding of computer interfaces is related to perceptual culture as well as perceptual ability; 2) investigate whether it is possible for a person who has never seen to understand visual concepts in informational technology through non-visual senses and memories; and 3) provoke questions as to the nature of computer interfaces, and whether they can ever be regarded as MulSeMedia style interfaces. Beyond this, it proposes to: 1) inform accessible MulSeMedia interface design; and 2) investigate the boundaries of accessing computer interfaces through non-visual perceptions and memories. In order to address these aims and objectives, this chapter discusses the following two research questions:1) Is the perceptual culture of a blind person as important as physical level of blindness in being able to understand, work with, learn how to use or create and program Graphical User Inerfaces (GUIs)?2) Can a cultural model of understanding blindness in part explain the difficulties in adapting Windows MulSeMedia applications for blind people? The study found that programmers who had been introduced to, and educated using a range of visual, audio and /or tactile devices, whether early or late blind, could adapt to produce code with GUIs, but programmers who were educated using only tactile and audio devices preferred to shun visual references in their work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultiple Sensorial Media Advances and Applications
Subtitle of host publicationNew Developments in MulSeMedia
EditorsGeorge Ghinea, Fredric Andres, Stephen R Gulliver
PublisherIGI Global Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781609608224
ISBN (Print)9781609608217
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2011


  • HCI
  • Blind
  • Blindness
  • visual impairment
  • Visual computer programming
  • computer programming
  • School for the blind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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