The purpose of this study is to explore design issues hampering the accessibility of digital libraries (DLs) for first-time blind users.
A combination of questionnaire, pre-interview, think-aloud and post-interview methods was used to collect data on non-visual interaction experiences with American Memory Digital Collection (AMDC) from 15 blind participants. Qualitative analysis via open coding revealed recurring themes on design problems and consequent difficulties for blind users in accessing DLs.
It was found that AMDC is not blind-friendly. Five categories of design problems were identified. Participants faced difficulty perceiving, operating and understanding content and controls needed for information retrieval.
This paper does not offer a comprehensive set of design issues prevalent across DL design models, instead it focuses on design problems observed in a publicly available DL.
This paper raises awareness of design choices that can unintentionally bar blind information seekers from DL access, and further suggests solutions to reduce these design problems for blind users.
The paper’s originality is its identification of unique design problems that prevent blind users from effectively interacting with DLs.
This research was supported by a $150,000 exploratory research grant by the UW Milwaukee’s Research Growth Initiative.
Babu, R. and Xie, I. (2017), "Haze in the digital library: design issues hampering accessibility for blind users", The Electronic Library, Vol. 35 No. 5, pp. 1052-1065. https://doi.org/10.1108/EL-10-2016-0209Download as .RIS
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