Website Navigation for Blind
Hans Hillen and Dr. Vanessa Evers, University of Amsterdam
In this case study Mr. Hillen and Dr. Evers focus on the problems that blind people can encounter
when they try to navigate a website. Having investigated these problems they propose some possible
solutions which are embedded in a prototype, NavAccess, that was developed and evaluated to
address three types of issues that the authors refer to as ‘‘focus challenges’’. These are: providing
guidance for blind users; empowering blind users; and reducing cognitive load.
Research goal and approach
The goal of this research was to create a prototype, known as NavAccess, that would make navigation
of websites more effective, efficient and pleasant for blind users.
So far, the solutions that have been provided to improve website navigation for blind users
mostly focus on one specific page. Little has been done to provide solutions that apply to a website
as a whole. The goal of this research was to provide such a solution. In order to achieve this goal a
prototype, NavAccess, was developed and then evaluated during user sessions with blind participants.
The prototype used for this study consisted of a server-based agent that crawled through all pages
within a given website, followed each link it encountered (but only those pointing to a page within
the current site domain) and collected information about these links and the pages they led to.
As a primary resource, previous studies were used in which the development and evaluation of
similar web navigation improvement tools for blind Internet users were described. Secondly, the User
Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0, developed by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative,
Interaction Design: Beyond human-computer interaction Sharp, Rogers and Preece
2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Website Navigation for Blind Users
were used as a baseline for the interface accessibility requirements. The Web Content Accessibility