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Evaluating accessibility by simulating the experiences of users with vision or motor impairments

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3 Author(s)
Mankoff, J. ; Human Computer Interaction Institute, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891, USA ; Fait, H. ; Juang, R.

User studies involving users with disabilities often incur greater financial cost and complexity than those involving general populations. Consequently, accessibility issues may not be identified during the earlier phases of software design, when designs are still malleable. Additionally, it can be difficult to create controlled studies with multiple groups of very similar subjects due to the extremely heterogeneous nature of the impact of many motor and visual disabilities. This paper examines the feasibility of simulating the interaction experiences of users with low vision or motor impairments. Based on empirical studies in the literature of the impact of these impairments on the experience of computer use, we have developed EASE (Evaluating Accessibility through Simulation of User Experience), a tool that can help developers identify disability-related usability problems early in the design process. EASE can also be used to allow fine-grained exploration of user capabilities that are difficult to control, such as achievable typing speed. We present a study of the use of word prediction software that illustrates the value of fine-grained control over typing speed and that also shows word prediction is most useful at typing speeds between 5 and 8 words per minute.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Systems Journal  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 3 )