The World Wide Web (Web) is a crucial resource for the employment, social networking, and entertainment of visually disabled1 users. However, Web pages are designed for visual interaction, and badly built pages, or those transformed into alternative forms (e.g, audio) by assistive technologies, loose the richness of the visual presentation and structural formatting, thereby becoming inaccessible. Our previous studies suggest that visually disabled users encounter two types of problem: those which are expected and can be adapted to, and those which are difficult and stressful, and can only be handled by coping.
Adaptation strategies include routine, even automatic, modes of getting along, whereas coping strategies are problematic adaptations that require new responses or special efforts; seen as last–resort activities signified by increased stress, increased frustration, increase browse time, increased task completion time, or an inability to interact with the page. We believe that adaptation is a perfectly acceptable mechanism for addressing change, however, we see coping as being driven by the need to address inadequacies in the technology in an attempt to re-engage with the content and re-attain the richness of the visual format.
We understand that the extent of our work will be, to some degree, determined by the ongoing results of the study. Nevertheless, our objective is to develop a deep understanding of how visually disabled users cope with inaccessible Web pages to facilitate more effective accessibility interventions such that the need to cope is removed.
In this case, we believe that the only way to accurately capture these strategies is by a longitudinal ethnographic study in co-operation with our observational partners. Augmented with a remote analysis of the mailing lists and discussion forums in which we have previously seen possible behavioural strategies exchanged.
Well at least that’s what I wrote in the funding application – really as a continuation to Yeliz Yesilada’s initial work and its continuation in Darren Lunn’s CASTA – ‘Coping Strategy Analysis to Support Transcoding Algorithms’ – work [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] . I’m pleased to say that the Basque Government liked it and now Markel Vigo is taking up a research position spending two years with us here in Manchester and then a final year with Julio Abascal at the University of the Basque Country.
- The term visually disabled refers to all those people who have either little or no vision or restricted vision not corrected by human artifice.
- Darren Lunn and Eleni Michailidou and Simon Harper (2007). Observational Notes Acquired from Henshaws’ Skillstep to Success Class: Observation Period 1 WEL Technical Reports, SADIe Technical Report 5 (61) Other: http://wel-eprints.cs.manchester.ac.uk/61/
- Darren Lunn and Eleni Michailidou and Simon Harper (2008). Observational Notes Acquired from Henshaws’ Skillstep to Success Class: Observation Period 2 WEL Technical Reports, SADIe Technical Report 8 (64) Other: http://wel-eprints.cs.manchester.ac.uk/64/
- Darren Lunn (2008). Verification of The Coping Strategy Framework Through An Analysis of the NoVA Evaluation Data WEL Technical Reports, SADIe Technical Report 10 (67) Other: http://wel-eprints.cs.manchester.ac.uk/67/
- Darren Lunn (2008). Coping Strategy Pattern Identification: An Analysis of the Henshaws’ and NoVA Data WEL Technical Reports, SADIe Technical Report 11 (69) Other: http://wel-eprints.cs.manchester.ac.uk/69/
- Darren Lunn (2009). Towards Behaviour-Driven Transcoding of Web Content Through an Analysis of User Coping Strategies WEL Technical Reports, Thesis (127) Other: http://wel-eprints.cs.manchester.ac.uk/127/