How people use presentation to search for a link: Expanding the understanding of accessibility on the Web

Caroline Jay, Robert Stevens, Mashhuda Glencross, Alan Chalmers, Cathy Yang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    It is well known that many Web pages are difficult to use for visually disabled people. Without access to a rich visual display, the intended structure and organisation of the page is obscured. To fully understand what is missing from the experience of visually disabled users, it is pertinent to ask how the presentation of Web pages on a standard display makes them easier for sighted people to use. This paper reports on an exploratory eye tracking study that addresses this issue by investigating how sighted readers use the presentation of the BBC News Web page to search for a link. The standard page presentation is compared with a "text-only" version, demonstrating both qualitatively and quantitatively that the removal of the intended presentation alters "reading" behaviours. The demonstration that the presentation of information assists task completion suggests that it should be re-introduced to non-visual presentations if the Web is to become more accessible. The conducted study also explored the extent to which algorithms that generate maps of what is perceptually salient on a page match the gaze data recorded in the eye tracking study. The correspondence between a page's presentation, knowledge of what is visually salient, and how people use these features to complete a task might offer an opportunity to re-model a Web page to maximise access to its most important parts. © Springer-Verlag 2007.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-320
    Number of pages13
    JournalUniversal Access in the Information Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


    • Eye tracking
    • Layout
    • Presentation
    • Web accessibility


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