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Screen Orientation: A Matter of How You Look at It – Alternative Screen Design to Improve Computer Accessibility for Blind Persons

By J. J. Beumer, Anthony Jameson, and Ronald P. Waterham (2000)

Proceedings of the 2000 International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, Karlsruhe.


In three experiments, we explored ways of designing GUI screens so that they are more usable for blind persons who rely on acoustic verbalization of screen content. In Experiment 1, we examined how sighted novice Windows users searched for information in a Windows environment. In Experiment 2, we used both the results of Experiment 1 and some general screen design principles to develop and refine an alternative screen design for blind persons. This alternative design essentially provides a series of one-dimensional representations of a screen’s content. In Experiment 3, we examined the search strategies of blind subjects in mockups of systems using the normal and the alternative screen designs. The objective measurements and the questionnaire results suggest that the alternative screen design led to a better understanding of the structure of the system. Subjects explored the screen less, and they requested additional information much less frequently.