A Pilot Study to Examine the Mobility Problems of Visually Impaired Users Travelling the Web

S Harper, R Stevens, C Goble

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The `Towel' project seeks to find solutions to problems encountered by both visually impaired and sighted users when travelling in the World Wide Web by leveraging solutions found in real-world mobility and applying them to the virtual world. Visually impaired users find mobility on the Web particularly difficult because of the reliance of hypermedia on visual layout and large viewable areas that facilitate and enhance sighted mobility. Hypertext design and usability has traditionally concentrated upon navigation to facilitate this mobility; consequently other aspects of travel are neglected and web mobility has suffered. Similarly, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Guidelines do not take a holistic view of travel and therefore in both these cases a fully rounded view of mobility cannot be formulated. This paper presents the basis for these assertions by drawing analogies between real-world and virtual-world mobility, and then attempts to substantiate these analogies by conducting a pilot study of virtual mobility on a focus group of both sighted and visually impaired web users. Knowledge of the differences in travel between visually impaired and sighted people will enable the design of better user agents and web content for visually impaired users as well as the sighted community.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-19
    Number of pages10
    JournalACM SIGCAPH: Special Interest Group on Computers & the Physically Handicapped Newsletter
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Travel
    • mobility
    • navigation
    • complex interfaces
    • hypertext
    • visually impaired
    • knowledge
    • empirical study
    • focus group
    • preview


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