Students with visual impairments' perceptions of the accessibility of the Internet
Lai Keun Siew, Texas Tech University, United States
Texas Tech University . Awarded
The Internet has a tremendous potential to improve the lives and increase the independence and confidence of students with visual impairments. In the last ten years, federal and state legislation requires that information technology be accessible to people with disabilities. The provision of assistive technology (AT) is essential to the people with disabilities' full participation in advanced information technologies. Furthermore, many organizations have formulated different accessibility standards and guidelines that help authors and designers make their Internet documents accessible to the broadest possible audience, especially for people with visual impairments, because they are the user group that currently has the most difficulty interacting with Web content.
However, recent studies showed that advanced information technology and communications networks are not really available, affordable or accessible to people with visual impairments. Most of the early studies focused on the accessibility of the computer and AT, but failed to take into consideration the accessibility of the Internet. Additionally, most of these studies were more interested in people with disabilities. A paucity of research is concerned with the secondary school students with visual impairments. This leaves a gap between what legislation requires and what is happening to students with visual impairments today. This study is devised to examine more closely secondary school students with visual impairments' perceptions of the accessibility of the Internet.
This study investigated the following research questions: (1) To what extent are students with visual impairments using the Internet now? (2) What are the most prominent barriers that hinder students with visual impairments using the Internet? (3) What are the most prominent motivators that motivate students with visual impairments overcome the barriers using the Internet?
The accessibility of the Internet has the potential to enhance the lives of students with visual impairments as well as to deny them equality of access to information. In particular, this new technology has the potential to enable or to create difficulties for students with visual impairments in the new millennium. Concerns about the Internet and the accessibility for students with visual impairments are evolving issues for the next decade.
Siew, L.K. Students with visual impairments' perceptions of the accessibility of the Internet. Ph.D. thesis, Texas Tech University.
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