Most previous studies of users with visual impairments access the web have focused solely on human-web interaction. This study explores the under investigated area of cross-modal collaborative information seeking (CCIS), that is the challenges and opportunities that exist in supporting visually impaired users to take an effective part in collaborative web search tasks with sighted peers. We observed behaviour patterns that occurred in CCIS activities between 8 pairs of visually impaired and sighted users in both co-located and distributed settings. Our findings showed the influence of the different interaction modalities employed, as well as differences due to whether pairs were working together co-located or distributed from one another. The effects of these factors were most clearly seen in the way pairs opted to divide the labour involved in search tasks, and the way in which they provided and used awareness information. Asymmetric division of labour strategies were employed to try to overcome the challenges imposed by accessibility issues and the use of different interaction modalities. We also observed that participants expended unnecessary effort in supplying more awareness information than was needed in an attempt to compensate for the absence of a tool to support cross-modal awareness information exchange.
Author and article information
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
Queen Mary University of London
Mile End road, London, E1 4NA, UK