Challenging Information Foraging Theory: Screen Reader Users are not Always Driven by Information Scent

Update 18 March 2013: Paper now available.

First look at our recently accepted Hypertext 2013 paper! Little is known about the navigation tactics employed by screen reader users when they face problematic situations on the Web. Understanding how these tactics are operationalised and knowing the situations that bring about such tactics paves the way towards modeling navigation behaviour….

Modeling the navigation of users is of utmost importance as it allows not only to predict interactive behaviour, but also to assess the appropriateness of the content in a link, the information architecture of a site and the design of a web page. Current navigation models do not consider the extreme adaptations, namely coping tactics, that screen reader users undergo on the Web. Consequently, their prediction power is lessened and coping tactics are mistakenly considered outlying behaviours. We draw from existing navigation models for sighted users to suggest the incorporation of emerging behaviours in navigation models for screen reader users. To do so, we identify the navigation coping tactics screen reader users exhibit on the Web, including deliberately clicking on low scented links, escaping from useless or inaccessible content and backtracking to a shelter. We find that especially in problematic situations user navigation is not driven by information scent or utility, but by the need of increasing autonomy and the need of escaping from the current web patch.

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One thought on “Challenging Information Foraging Theory: Screen Reader Users are not Always Driven by Information Scent

  1. Pingback: Evaluating Accessibility-in-Use | Bugs Become Features…

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