An empirical investigation into the difficulties experienced by visually impaired Internet users

  • Emma Murphy
  • Ravi Kuber
  • Graham McAllister
  • Philip Strain
  • Wai Yu
Long Paper

Abstract

In this paper, an empirical based study is described which has been conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the visually impaired community when accessing the Web. The study, involving 30 blind and partially sighted computer users, has identified navigation strategies, perceptions of page layout and graphics using assistive devices such as screen readers. Analysis of the data has revealed that current assistive technologies impose navigational constraints and provide limited information on web page layout. Conveying additional spatial information could enhance the exploration process for visually impaired Internet users. It could also assist the process of collaboration between blind and sighted users when performing web-based tasks. The findings from the survey have informed the development of a non-visual interface, which uses the benefits of multimodal technologies to present spatial and navigational cues to the user.

Keywords

Accessibility barriers Assistive technology Internet Multimodality Visually impaired 

References

  1. 1.
    Asakawa, C., Takagi, H.: Annotation-based transcoding for nonvisual web access. In: Proceedings of the Fourth International ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies, pp. 172–179. ACM Press, Arlington, VA, USA, 13–15 November (2000)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brajnik, G.: Achieving universal web access through specialised user interfaces. In: Stephanidis, C. (ed.) Proceedings of 8th ERCIM UI4ALL’04 Workshop, Vienna, Austria, 28–29 June (2004)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Brewster S.A.: The impact of haptic ‘touching’ technology on cultural applications. In: Hemsley, J., Cappellini, V., Stanke, G. (eds.) Digital Applications for Cultural Heritage Institutions, pp. 273–284. Ashgate Press, UK (2005)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Denzin, N.K.: The Research Act; a Theoretical Introduction to Sociological Methods, 2nd edn. Mcgraw-Hill, New York (1978)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Disability Discrimination Act. Available: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1995/1995050.htm (1995)
  6. 6.
    Disability Rights Commission: The web access and inclusion for disabled people. A formal investigation conducted by the disability rights commission. Available: http://www.drc-gb.org/publicationsandreports/report.asp (2004)
  7. 7.
    Donker, H., Klante, P., Gorny, P.: The design of auditory user interfaces for blind users. In: Proceedings of the Second Nordic Conference on Human–Computer Interaction, pp. 149–156. ACM Press, Aarhus, Denmark, October 19–23 (2002)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Edwards, W.K., Mynatt, E., Rodriguez, T.: The Mercator Project: A nonvisual interface to the X-window system. X Resour. 7, 33–53 (1993)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gerber, E., Kirchner, C.: Who’s surfing? Internet access and computer use by visually impaired youths and adults. J. Vis. Impair. Blind. 95, 176–181 (2001)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Goose, S., Moller, C.: A 3d audio only interactive web browser: using spatialization to convey hypermedia document structure. In: Proceedings of the Seventh ACM International Conference on Multimedia, pp. 363–371. ACM Press, Orlando, FL, USA, October 30–November 5 (1999)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hackett, S., Parmanto, B., Zeng, X.: Accessibility of Internet web sites through time. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International ACM Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 32–39. ACM Press, Atlanta, GA, USA (2004)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hakkinen, M., Dewitt, J.: pwWebSpeak: User Interface Design of an Accessible Web Browser. White Paper, The Productivity Works Inc., Trenton (1996)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hanson, V.L.: Taking control of web browsing. New Rev. Hypermedia Multimed. 10(2), 127–140 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Harper, S., Stevens, R., Goble, C.: Web mobility guidelines for visually impaired surfers. J. Res. Pract. Inf. Technol. Spec. Issue HCI (Australian Computer Society) 33(1), 30–41 (2001)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    IBM Home Page Reader 3.04. Available: http://www.ibm.com/able/solution_offerings/hpr.html
  16. 16.
    Jones, R.: Comparison of the use of the Internet by partially sighted and blind pupils placed in a special school environment. Br. J. Vis. Impair. 22(2), 55–58 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lahav, O., Mioduser, D.: Blind persons’ acquisition of spatial cognitive mapping. In: Sharkey, P., McCrindle, R., Brown, D. (eds.) Proceedings of ICDVRAT, pp. 131–138. Oxford, UK, September 20–22 (2004)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lazar, J., Beere, P., Greenidge, K., Nagappa, Y.: Web accessibility in the mid-Atlantic United States: a study of 50 home pages. Univers. Access Inf. Soc. 2(4), 1–11 (2003)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ma, H.Y., Zaphiris, P.: The usability and content accessibility of the e-government in the UK. In: Stephanidis, C. (ed.) Universal Access in HCI, pp. 760–764. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mehwah, USA, June 22–27 (2003)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Mcmullin, B.: Users with disability need not apply? Web accessibility in Ireland. First Monday [Online]. Available: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue7_12/mcmullin/ (2002)
  21. 21.
    Mynatt, E., Weber, G.: Nonvisual presentation of graphical user interfaces: contrasting two approaches. In: Adelson, B., Dumais, S.T., Olson, J.S. (eds.) In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 166–172. ACM Press, Boston, MA, USA, April 24–28 (1994)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Parente, P.: Audio enriched links: web page previews for blind users. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International ACM Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 2–8. ACM Press, Atlanta, GA, USA, October 18–20 (2003)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Petrie, H., Fisher, W., O’Neill, A., Fisher, W., Di Segni, Y.: Deliverable 2.1: Report on user requirements of mainstream readers and print disabled readers. Available: http://www.multireader.org/workplan.htm (2001)
  24. 24.
    Petrie, H., Morley, S., Mcnally, P., O’Neill, A.M., Majoe, D.: Initial design and evaluation of an interface to hypermedia systems for blind users. In: Bernstein, M., Carr, L., Osterbye, K. (eds.) Proceedings of the Eighth ACM Conference On Hypertext, pp. 48–56. ACM Press, Southampton, UK, April 6–11 (1997)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Petrie, H., Hamilton, F.: The disability rights commission formal investigation into web site accessibility. In: Proceedings of BCS HCI Conference, Leeds, UK, September 6–10, pp 157–158 (2004)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ramstein, C., Martial, O., Dufresne, A., Carignan, M., Chasse, P., Mabilleau, P.: Touching and hearing GUI’s: Design issues for the PC-access system. In: Proceedings of the Second Annual ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies, pp. 2–9. ACM Press, Vancouver, Canada (1996)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Roth, P., Petrucci, L.S., Assimacopoulos, A., Pun, T.: Audio-haptic Internet browser and associated tools for blind and visually impaired users. In: Germain, C., Lavialle, O., Grivel, E. (eds.) COST 254 Intelligent Terminals Workshop Friendly Exchanging Trough the Net Proceedings, Bordeaux, France, March 22–24, pp 57–62 (2000)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Seeman, L.: The semantic web, web accessibility, and device independence. In: Proceedings of the International Cross-Disciplinary Workshop on Web Accessibility, pp. 67–73. ACM Press, New York City, NY, USA (2004)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Sinks, S., King, J.: Adults with disabilities: perceived barriers that prevent Internet access. In Proceedings of CSUN 1998 Conference, Los Angeles, CA, USA, March 17–21 (1998)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sjostrom, C.: Designing haptic computer interfaces for blind people. In: Proceedings of ISSPA’01, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 13–16, pp. 68–71 (2001)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Strain, P., McAllister, G.: Enhancing web accessibility for the visually impaired using RSS. In: MacKinnon, L., Bertelsen, O., Bryan-Kinns, N. (eds.) Proceedings of BCS HCI Conference, Edinburgh, UK, September 5–9, pp. 127–132 (2005)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. Available: http://www.w3.org/tr/wai-webcontent/ (1999)
  33. 33.
    Williamson, K., Wright, S., Schauder, D., Bow, A.: The Internet for the blind and visually impaired. J. Comput. Mediat. Commun. [Online]. Available: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol7/issue1/williamson.html (2001)
  34. 34.
    Yesilada, Y., Harper, S., Goble, C., Stevens, R.: Screen readers cannot see (ontology based semantic annotation for visually impaired web travellers). In: Koch, N., Fraternali, P., Wirsing, M. (eds.) Proceedings of ICWE 2004, Munich, Germany, July 2004, Springer (LNCS 3140), pp. 445–458 (2004)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Yu, W., Brewster, S.: Multimodal virtual reality versus printed medium in visualization for blind people. In: Hanson, V.L., Jacko, J.A. (eds.) Proceedings of the Fifth International ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, July 8–10, pp. 57–64 (2002)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Yu, W., Kuber, R., Murphy, E., Strain, P., McAllister, G.: A novel multimodal interface for improving visually impaired people’s web accessibility. Virtual Real. J. Spec. Issue Haptic Interfaces Appl. 9(2–3), 133–148 (2005)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Zajicek, M., Powell, C., Reeves, C.: A web navigation tool for the blind. In: Proceedings of the Third International ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies, pp. 204–206. ACM Press, Marina del Rey, CA, United States, April 15–17 (1998)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emma Murphy
    • 1
  • Ravi Kuber
    • 1
  • Graham McAllister
    • 1
  • Philip Strain
    • 1
  • Wai Yu
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland

Personalised recommendations