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An investigation into accessible and usable web navigation for the blind people

Zainal Abidin, A.H. (2016) An investigation into accessible and usable web navigation for the blind people. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Navigability, or ease of navigation, is important for web access by the blind community. However, current screen reader program used by blind people to access the Internet imposes navigation constraints since the blind users can only ‘hear’ the content in serial mode. Serialized access using a screen-reader program prevents blind users from experiencing the multi-dimensional effects required to fully understand the page layout. We believe that by accessing web pages using bi-modal interaction, a blind user would be able to gain a two-dimensional perspective of a web page in his or her mental model. The purpose of this study is to investigate the differences in the mental models created by blind people from a two-dimensional web page using two different means: one using a screen reader only and the other using a touch screen with audio feedback.

This study utilized a mixed-method design to investigate the accessibility and usability differences between use of a screen reader and use of a touch screen with audio feedback. Ten blind people and thirty sighted and blindfolded participants participated in this study. This study employed within-subjects repeated measures experiments together with observations, verbal protocols and semi-structured questionnaires to achieve the defined objectives. Additionally, the influence of users’ spatial ability on their performance was investigated using Tactual Performance Test (TPT).

This study found that expert and more experienced screen reader users were able to imagine the page layout in a two-dimensional perspective, using a touch screen with audio feedback. The study also revealed that blind users achieved more accurate orientation when using a touch screen with audio feedback. However, the accuracy of orientation seems to have been affected by page complexity. In addition, investigation of blind users’ spatial ability on their sense of position revealed that, when using a touch screen with audio feedback, blind participants with lower spatial ability took longer time to locate information. Therefore, spatial ability is an important determinant for web navigability when using a touch screen with audio feedback.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor: Xie, Hong and Wong, Kevin
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/31912
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