Accessible Design for Visual Impairment Types: Personalizing the Access of Digital Textbooks

Supervisors: Denis Lalanne, Cédric Baudet (HES-SO)

Student: Maximiliano Jeanneret Medina

Project status: Finished

Year: 2021

People with visual impairment represent a major population of people with disabilities. Each sub population with visual disabilities (e.g. low vision, color-blind) includes people with different needs in terms of access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). To provide both accessibility and high quality interaction, practitioners and academics recommends applying a set of adaptation techniques tailored to the targeted population. On the other hand, ready-to-use mainstream solutions, following universal access principles, provide adaptation capabilities that can be user invoked. In this category, belongs the Microsoft Immersive Reader that enhances the visual reading environment.

This study aims to explore the aforementioned approaches of adaptation in application to web documents. To do so, we conducted a two stepped research, including both accessibility and usability concerns. In a first step, we developed a set of accessible digital documents, in respect with accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.1), and performed specific adaptation techniques suitable to visually impaired people. In a second step, visually impaired people evaluated these accessible documents, and their adapted version performed by the Microsoft Immersive Reader. A mixed methods research design allowed us to capture the user interactions, observes them, and access to their expressed perception of usability.

As a result, documents with an enhanced presentation by the immersive reader are less usable than accessible ones. The modification of document's structure, and style, have an impact on browsing strategies carried out by participants, which impact efficiency and effectiveness. When using the immersive reader, visually impaired people chose the effortless strategies. However, limited adaptation capabilities cause more efforts. The immersive reader capabilities were beneficial to some participants with the less severe visual impairment.

Currently, universal user-invoked adaptation provided by mainstream user agents is encouraging but not sufficient to target the wide range of visually impaired people. We believe that immersive readers have a strong potential to answer accessibility through a universalist but specific approach.

Keywords: accessibility; usability; universal access; visually impaired people; digital document; adaptation; immersive reader

Document: report.pdf