Evaluation of Learning Systems for Blind Users

Academic institutions around the world are utilizing and investing in online learning management systems. While several research studies have examined the functionality of this type of technology, little attention has been paid to accessibility issues, in particular to the complex web-based interfaces for learners with disabilities--e.g., those with visual impairment. There is also no standardized method for evaluating accessibility features of a learning system. The approaches that are mostly used among practitioners and educators are based on accessibility guidelines or experts' judgments--without direct input from actual users. This results in a lack of user-subjective perspectives. In order to fill in the gap, this research investigated accessibility features of an online learning management system, based on the experiences of learners with visual impairment. Three data collection methods were employed: observation through usability tests, questionnaires, and focus groups. This study contributed to our better understanding of the interactions and experiences of visually impaired learners with online learning management systems. Furthermore, the research findings were applicable to issues of accessibility of a wider range of applications, particularly web-based information systems.

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