In search of trustworthy information: a qualitative study of the search behavior of people with dyslexia in Norway


Access to trustworthy information is a premise for participation in a democratic society. However, locating useful and valid information may not be a straightforward task for all users. This study reports the results from a qualitative study of how people with dyslexia experience online information searching. The purpose is to better understand the search behavior of users with dyslexia and develop more accessible user interfaces. A total of eight adults with dyslexia were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and categorized. The participants had high information literacy skills and were very reflected upon various issues related to evaluating results. Moreover, they preferred sources such as well-reputed online encyclopedias, which did not require extensive inspection of results. However, due to a low tolerance for spelling errors in several Norwegian search systems, the participants had to rely on Google, a system that required more effort on evaluating results. Assessing sources was considered to be demanding, due to reduced reading speed, decoding errors and impaired short-term memory capacity caused by the dyslexia. Consequently, the participants often used sources retrieved by Google without proper evaluation, fully aware that the information might not be trustworthy. All search systems should implement a high tolerance for spelling errors to ensure the accessibility for people with reading and writing impairments. Moreover, there is a need to rethink result list design. Further, more work is needed to develop search aids and voice searching for small languages, such as Norwegian.

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The authors are grateful to the participants for their valuable time.

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Correspondence to Gerd Berget.

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Appendix: Interview guide (originally in Norwegian)

Appendix: Interview guide (originally in Norwegian)

  1. 1.


    • Introduction of the person conducting the interview

    • Thank the person for participating and explain procedure and ethical requirements, storing and handling of data, etc.

    • Ask if anything is unclear, or the person has any further questions before the interview is recorded.

  2. 2.

    Background information:

    • Gender, age, education, occupation, dyslexia

  3. 3.

    Topic: General use of information sources and “tools”

    • Do you have any preferences regarding search engine? If yes, which one(s)?

    • Which web sites do you consider trustworthy sources for factual knowledge? (ask about examples for specific topics if necessary, for instance Hungary, the brain and ticks)

    • Can you explain how you search when looking for information about a specific topic?

    • What would an optimal search system look like?

    • Do you use autocorrect while inputting queries if the system has that functionality?

    • Do you look at the suggestions while inputting queries?

    • Do you pay attention to the red line underneath potentially misspelled query terms?

  4. 4.

    Topic: The result list

    • What do you do if you retrieve no relevant results? (follow up: how does that feel?)

    • Have you ever given up searching altogether?

    • What is your experience with the autocomplete? Has autocomplete ever sent you off track?

    • What do you do when you are unsure about the spelling of a query term?

    • What are the biggest challenges when searching for information? How do you experience that?

    • What does the ideal result list look like?

  5. 5.


    • If none of the results are familiar to you, how do you proceed in assessing the trustworthiness? (time spent, number of results that are assessed, consider spelling of words, etc.)

    • Do you have any other comments that you want to add that you think is relevant in this context?

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Kvikne, B., Berget, G. In search of trustworthy information: a qualitative study of the search behavior of people with dyslexia in Norway. Univ Access Inf Soc (2019) doi:10.1007/s10209-019-00703-9

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  • Dyslexia
  • Trustworthiness
  • Search behavior
  • Search user interfaces
  • Universal design