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Title: Understanding accessibility problems of blind users on the web
Author: Savva, Andreas
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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The web is an eminently visual medium. However, not everyone accesses web content visually. Research shows that using the web is challenging for blind users. To create a good user experience for blind users on the web, we need a comprehensive understanding of the users’ problems. Currently, there is little knowledge about the problem differences between blind and sighted users, which makes it difficult to suggest and test design solutions that address these problems. This research aims to provide a further understanding of the problems blind users have on the web by comparing and contrasting problems between blind and sighted users and testing how design solutions to prevalent problems benefit blind users’ experience. The first study draws together the research literature into a common unified definition of web accessibility that was used to operationalise studies. The second study compared which verbal protocol (concurrent or retrospective) is better in user-based studies. The results showed that retrospective verbal protocol is a better option for eliciting problems on the web for blind and sighted users. Then, an empirical study compared the problems between blind and sighted users on the web. The results showed that the problems the two user groups encounter largely differ. There are specific problem types distinct to blind users, but also the characteristics of the problem types that had instances by both user groups were very different. Moreover, many problems blind users encounter were in relation to the search and browse features of the websites. A further investigation by two studies with blind users of how specific design solutions to prevalent problems users had (poor page structure, lack of feedback and excessive effort) in this specific design aspect showed that simple design solutions improve specific aspects of users’ experience. Although, for major improvements in the overall user experience a combination of design solutions is needed.
Supervisor: Petrie, Helen ; Power, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available