The method of creating auditory graphs by mapping the y axis to pitch and the x axis to time, is demonstrated to be an effective technique for displaying graphical information to students. This study shows that auditory displays of single valued x-y data can be easily constructed utilizing pitch change for the data, the inclusion of drum beats to mark first and second derivative information, and tonality changes to indicate negative values.
Over 200 first year physics students at Oregon State University, as well as other selected subjects, were given a World Wide Web based test containing a series of math and physics multiple choice questions involving graphs. It is shown that, while not a perfect replacement for the visual graph, students with very little training can effectively use auditory graphs to answer analytical and identification type questions. Student performance for the group using only auditory graphs is shown to be 80% of the level attained by subjects using visually presented graphs.
It is also demonstrated that blind subjects from remote locations around the country and the world, are able to access and use auditory graphs displayed via the World Wide Web at a performance level exceeding that of the first year physics students. In addition, a study on various preference choices and methods for creating auditory graphs is demonstrated as a guide for future research.
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Copyright 1999 Steven Sahyun