Experimental Evaluation of Usability and Accessibility of Heading ElementsBy Watanabe, Takayuki; Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 236-247
Publication Date: July 2009
Study sought to determine whether marking up heading elements of Web sites improves usability and accessibility. For the study, two experiments were carried out nine months apart, with 16 sighted and 4 blind participants in the first experiment, and with the number of blind participants increased to 9 in the second experiment to broaden the statistical base. Blind participants were experienced users of the JAWS screen reader. Task completion times and questionnaire responses were collected from participants for two kinds of Web sites: sites marked up appropriately with heading elements, and sites with the same visual appearance but with no heading elements marked up. Experiments were carried out with user agents that could navigate through heading elements. Results showed that heading elements improved usability both for sighted and blind users in terms of significantly reduced task completion time as well as higher user satisfaction with the structured site. A significant difference in accessibility was not observed when heading elements were marked up, possibly due to blind users making use of the user agent’s navigation functions to find the target information efficiently when the heading elements were not present. Based on these findings, the author concludes that a combination of content with heading elements marked up, user agents with functions that utilize structure markup, and users with sufficient knowledge about user agents functionality improves usability for both sighted and blind users and may improve accessibility for blind users.
Assistive Products Discussed: JAWS FOR WINDOWS
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Limited (Website:http://taylorandfrancis.org)
International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (Web Site: http://www.isprm.org )