Cognitive Processing

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 263–272

Web usability evaluation with screen reader users: implementation of the partial concurrent thinking aloud technique

  • Federici Stefano
  • Simone Borsci
  • Gianluca Stamerra
Research Report

DOI: 10.1007/s10339-009-0347-y

Cite this article as:
Stefano, F., Borsci, S. & Stamerra, G. Cogn Process (2010) 11: 263. doi:10.1007/s10339-009-0347-y


A verbal protocol technique, adopted for a web usability evaluation, requires that the users are able to perform a double task: surfing and talking. Nevertheless, when blind users surf by using a screen reader and talk about the way they interact with the computer, the evaluation is influenced by a structural interference: users are forced to think aloud and listen to the screen reader at the same time. The aim of this study is to build up a verbal protocol technique for samples of visual impaired users in order to overcome the limits of concurrent and retrospective protocols. The technique we improved, called partial concurrent thinking aloud (PCTA), integrates a modified set of concurrent verbalization and retrospective analysis. One group of 6 blind users and another group of 6 sighted users evaluated the usability of a website using PCTA. By estimating the number of necessary users by the means of an asymptotic test, it was found out that the two groups had an equivalent ability of identifying usability problems, both over 80%. The result suggests that PCTA, while respecting the properties of classic verbal protocols, also allows to overcome the structural interference and the limits of concurrent and retrospective protocols when used with screen reader users. In this way, PCTA reduces the efficiency difference of usability evaluation between blind and sighted users.


Asymptotic testHuman computer interactionThinking aloudUsability evaluation

Supplementary material

10339_2009_347_MOESM1_ESM.doc (233 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 233 kb)

Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Federici Stefano
    • 1
  • Simone Borsci
    • 2
  • Gianluca Stamerra
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human and Education SciencesUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.ECoNA, Interuniversity Centre For Research on Cognitive Processing in Natural and Artificial SystemsUniversity of Rome ‘La Sapienza’RomeItaly