Why Web Professionals Design for Accessibility: The Importance of User Involvement and Product Quality

Vollenwyder, Beat. Why Web Professionals Design for Accessibility: The Importance of User Involvement and Product Quality. 2022, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.


Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/93595/

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Background. For people with disabilities, the fast development of services on the web and in mobile apps offers great potential for equal participation. Web accessibility enables this potential by preventing the emergence of barriers that result from sensory (e.g., vision, hearing), motor (e.g., tremor, limited use of hands), and cognitive (e.g., learning disabilities, attention deficits) impairments. Taking web accessibility into account extends the usability of web and mobile apps to as many people as possible. Web professionals in various roles – such as interaction designers, visual designers, and developers – define and shape the design of such services and hold a key responsibility for web accessibility. In four manuscripts, we examine the main contributing factors in the adoption of inclusive design practices and explore how those factors can be supported.
Methods and Results. In the first manuscript, we completed a systematic literature review of recently published articles discussing contributing factors in web accessibility adoption, constructed a questionnaire, and conducted a survey of web professionals using the questionnaire. In this process, we identified three key determinants of why web professionals consider web accessibility. First, users with disabilities should have opportunities to offer their perspectives at all stages of the design process. Second, web professionals should integrate web accessibility as a part of their professional role. And third, web accessibility should be perceived as beneficial for the overall quality of a product. The factors of product quality and user involvement were then explored in depth. Product quality was addressed in randomised controlled experiments conducted in the second and third manuscripts. In both studies, the level of accessibility was manipulated to examine its effects on outcomes related to usability and user experience. Manuscript 2 focuses on the question of how reduced language complexity impacts perceived product quality. We found that a combined presentation of text in both conventional and simplified language can provide positive effects for users with cognitive disabilities while not undermining the experience of other user groups. Manuscript 3 focuses on the relation between product quality and compliance with web accessibility standards. The results show that beneficial effects on outcomes related to usability and user experience cannot be expected from compliance with web accessibility standards alone. Finally, the factor of user involvement is explored in the fourth manuscript, in which we detail a case study of a participatory-design approach for involving users with disabilities in the design process.
Conclusion. Designing accessible web and mobile apps is a demanding task. We conclude that (a) involving users with a variety of abilities in the design process is a key component and has an impact on multiple levels. This is closely related to the outcome that (b) web accessibility efforts should go beyond conformance with standards to significantly enhance product quality. Further, the fast-evolving field of web and mobile apps requires (c) strengthening web accessibility at all stages of the design process. Additionally, all professionals involved in the design of inclusive products should (d) expand their personal commitment by establishing an understanding of how inclusion benefits all users and what their individual role can contribute. Based on these findings, we propose implications for research and practice.
Advisors:Opwis, Klaus
Committee Members:Sauer, Jürgen
UniBasel Contributors:Vollenwyder, Beat and Opwis, Klaus
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:14966
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Band (verschiedene Seitenzählungen)
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss149664
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:10 Mar 2023 05:30
Deposited On:09 Mar 2023 09:28

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