Enhancing Accessibility through User-Controlled Adaptation: Case of Library Search Tools
The purpose of this thesis was to gain an improved understanding towards the concept of user-controlled adaptation and its applicability in terms of accessibility and usability in ICT. While it is a relatively unexplored area within the concept of universal design and human-computer interaction, the results gathered are promising in relation to future applications of this approach when designing websites. The scope of this project was to understand how user-controlled adaptation could be used to improve accessibility and usability for users with disabilities. However, it was decided to limit the scope to focusing on library Resource Discovery Tools(RDTs), and limiting the user group to people with print disabilities. This decision was made to make the project realistically possible to complete within the outlined timeframe and the amount of resources available. Therefore, the research questions were limited to the following two questions: Would giving users control over the presentation level contribute to improve the usability and accessibility of RDTs for users with print disabilities? How can developers facilitate for users controlling the presentation level of a Search interface? To answer these questions, it was decided to adopt a qualitative approach that would base itself around gathering data through a prototype which was tested by the participants, a comparison between two existing solutions followed by interviews. Then a thematic analysis of the gathered data was used to draw conclusions from, which then led to suggestions for future work as well as for designers of future library RDTs. It was discovered that there was much room for improvement in existing RDTs, as the prototype spurred lots of feedback and comparisons to existing library RDTs by the participants, and that the RDTs would benefit from implementing several functions, most of all the ability to filter before performing a search and being able to adapt the presentation of the search results to prevent an information overflow and needless searching through large blocks of text to find the relevant information. The conclusions made after this study is that more research is required, but this approach towards accessibility seemed promising, especially in such an information-heavy interface as library RDTs. Being able to alter the presentation and limit the amount of unwanted information being given to the users was deemed by the participants to be a great feature. Some of the suggestions for future designers of RDTs, or websites that use similar concepts, are to limit the information exposure to the user, and to provide clear instructions for functionality. If possible, it is preferable to grant the user control over the information presentation, so they can decide what information they find necessary.
Aasheim, Marius Wiker