Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 307–320 | Cite as

How people use presentation to search for a link: expanding the understanding of accessibility on the Web

  • Caroline JayEmail author
  • Robert Stevens
  • Mashhuda Glencross
  • Alan Chalmers
  • Cathy Yang
Long Paper


It is well known that many Web pages are difficult to use for visually disabled people. Without access to a rich visual display, the intended structure and organisation of the page is obscured. To fully understand what is missing from the experience of visually disabled users, it is pertinent to ask how the presentation of Web pages on a standard display makes them easier for sighted people to use. This paper reports on an exploratory eye tracking study that addresses this issue by investigating how sighted readers use the presentation of the BBC News Web page to search for a link. The standard page presentation is compared with a “text-only” version, demonstrating both qualitatively and quantitatively that the removal of the intended presentation alters “reading” behaviours. The demonstration that the presentation of information assists task completion suggests that it should be re-introduced to non-visual presentations if the Web is to become more accessible. The conducted study also explored the extent to which algorithms that generate maps of what is perceptually salient on a page match the gaze data recorded in the eye tracking study. The correspondence between a page’s presentation, knowledge of what is visually salient, and how people use these features to complete a task might offer an opportunity to re-model a Web page to maximise access to its most important parts.


Web accessibility Eye tracking Presentation Layout 



Caroline Jay is funded by EPSRC grant EP/D036518/1.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Jay
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Stevens
    • 1
  • Mashhuda Glencross
    • 1
  • Alan Chalmers
    • 2
  • Cathy Yang
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.International Manufacturing CentreUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  3. 3.University of BristolBristolUK

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