Professor Davide Bolchini and human-computer interaction doctoral students Tao Yang, Prathik Gadde and Robert Morse in the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, recently had their refereed full paper “Bypassing Lists: Accelerating Screen-Reader Fact-Finding with Guided Tours” accepted at the highly-selective 15th ACM SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2013).
The paper reports a study that reveals for the first time that blind and visually-impaired users using screen readers (software that reads aloud the content of a website) can find information on the web almost twice as fast when relying on linear rather than hierarchical navigation structures. The research contributes key evidence to augment the design of current and next-generation interactive systems that can empower blind and visually-impaired web users to access and browse web applications more quickly.
“Since the early days of the web, web applications have been heavily relying on organizing collections of information in hierarchical fashion through long indexes (e.g., list of links), because that is the easiest way for sighted users to browse large information sets” says Bolchini. “Unfortunately, this assumption does not hold for people who cannot use their eyes to quickly glance over an index to make an informed navigation decision. By observing blind users navigating a website with screen readers, we quickly realized that sifting back and forth through long indexes is one of the most frustrating hurdles they encounter every day when they browse the web. We were excited to discover that complementing an index with simpler, linear navigation patterns can tremendously augment the ability of screen reader users to quickly scan a collection of items, thus empowering them to find the desired information much faster than with current browsing mechanisms”.
This research is based upon work supported by the NSF grant on “Navigating the Aural Web” IIS-1018054, and has been conducted in collaboration with high-school students and teachers from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI) in Indianapolis.
The paper will be presented at ASSETS in Bellevue, Washington October 21-23, 2013. ASSETS is the top research conference specializing in computing and information technologies to benefit people with disabilities and older adults.
To view the accepted version of the paper, click here.
For more on Dr. Bolchini and his research group, click here.
For more information about the Human-Computer Interaction program, click here