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Understanding and Supporting Cross-modal Collaborative Information Seeking
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Most previous studies of users with visual impairments (VI) access to the web have focused solely on single user human-web interaction. This thesis 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. The thesis examines the overall question of what happens currently when people perform CCIS, and how might the CCIS process be improved? To motivate the work, we conducted a survey, the results of which showed that a significant amount of CCIS activity goes on. An exploratory study was conducted to investigate the challenges faced and behaviour patterns that occur when people perform CCIS. We observed 14 pairs of VI and sighted users in both co-located and distributed settings. In this study participants used their tools of choice, that is the web browser, note taker and preferred communications system. The study examines how concepts from the “mainstream” collaborative Information Seeking (CIS) literature, play out in the context of cross-modality. Based on the findings of this study, we produced design recommendations for features that can better support cross-modal collaborative search. Following this, we surveyed mainstream CIS systems and selected the most accessible software package that satisfied the design recommendations from the initial study. Due to the fact that the software was not built with accessibility in mind, we developed JAWS scripts and employed other JAWS features to improve its accessibility and VI user experience. We then performed a second study, using the same participants undertaking search tasks of a similar complexity as before, but this time using the CIS system. The aim of this study was to explore the impact on the CCIS process when introducing a mainstream CIS system, enhanced for accessibility. In this study we looked into CCIS from two perspectives: the collaboration and the individual interaction with the interface. The findings from this study provide an understanding of the process of CCIS when using a system that supports it. These findings assisted us in formulating a set of guidelines toward supporting collaborative search in a cross-modal context.
AuthorsAl-Thani, Dena Ahmed S
- Theses