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Research for software and Web developers

I am currently undertaking a research project at Brunel University, England, to evaluate the technological needs of deaf-blind users of technology, and the extent to which software developers and Web Site developers can serve their technological needs.

Computers, the Internet, and other technologies act as a gateway for deaf-blind people to the outside world. The potential exists to revolutionise the lives of deaf-blind people, providing new opportunities for learning, shopping, and communication. However, Web designers and software developers are creating products, which are inaccessible to the needs of this specialist user group, not out of deliberate inconsideration but out of a lack of awareness as to how best, and how easily, their needs can be met.

The purpose of this research is to discover the needs of deaf-blind users, to understand and evaluate the working practices of developers and their awareness of the needs of specialist user groups, such as the deaf-blind, with a view to creating simple guidelines, which designers can use to make their technologies accessible to the greatest possible volume of people. If you are a software developer or a Web designer, please could you spare a couple of minutes to fill out the questionnaire below and return it to [log in to unmask] In return for your time, you will receive a complete report upon completion of the project, detailing how your responses are serving to increase awareness in the design community.

Most of the questions only require a "Yes" or "No" response and you can enter your responses in the body of this e-mail, then press "CTRL A" to highlight all the text and then select "Reply" in your E-mail package and send it to the e-mail address above. Thank you kindly for your time, and please feel free to make any comments you wish to make.

Yours faithfully,


Peter George McGavock

Brunel Univeristy
Department of Information Systems and Computing
Uxbridge, Middlesex,
UB8 3EY
Tel. 01895 238 446


Questionnaire


General Design Questions


Question 1:

After you have designed and released your product, how much feedback do you receive from your users about your design? (Please choose one option from the following four alternatives).

Substantial feedback

Modest feedback

Limited feedback

No feedback at all


Question 2:

Do you follow any development methodologies during the life of your design work? (Yes or No). If you answer "No" to this question please go to question four.


Question 3:

Please list the main methodologies you use for guidance.


Question 4:

Do you include your target users in your development process? (Yes or No).


Question 5:

Do you adopt any of the following standards guidelines during the development of your products? (Please write "Yes" for all that apply).

HTML 4

Cascading Style Sheet (CCS) 2.0

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

Sun Microsystems Accessibility Reference Guidelines

IBM's Hardware Accessibility Guidelines

IBM's Software Accessibility Guidelines

Microsoft's Software Accessibility Guidelines

The "Three-Click Rule" which states that all information should be accessible in no more than three clicks.


Question 6:

How many of the nine standards guidelines listed above have you been made aware of?


Question 7:

Do you test your products for accessibility for any of the following specialist user groups? (Please write "Yes" for all that apply).

The visually impaired

The auditory impaired

The physically impaired

The cognitive or linguistically impaired

The multiply impaired (any combination of the above).


Question 8:

For those of you who feel unable to adopt the standards guidelines in question four, and to test for the accessibility of the specialist groups in the previous question, do you feel this is a result of budget, time pressures, competitive pressures or a lack of available expertise? (Please write "Yes" for all that apply).

Budget

Time pressures

Competitive pressures

Lack of available expertise


Question 9:

Do you present the documentation for your products in any of the following formats? (Please write "Yes" for all that apply).

CD-ROM

Large print

On-Line ASCII or HTML documents

Braille

Audio


Question 10:

How many members are there in your design team?


Question 11:

Do you consult any of the following specialists during the development of your products? (Please write "Yes" for all that apply).

Usability Engineers

Psychologists

Sociologists

Ergonomics Engineers

Graphic Designers

Interface Designers

Typographers

Ethnographers


Questions for Web Developers


Question 12:

Do you use "Flash" in your Web Sites? (Yes or No).


Question 13:

Do you present a plain HTML version of your Web Sites? (Yes or No).


Question 14:

Do you often include bodies of text in a column format in your Web Sites? (Yes or No).


Question 15:

Do you provide "Non-Frames" alternatives to your Web Sites? (Yes or No).


Question 16:

Do you compliment all the images in your sites with "Alternative Text" to describe the purposes of your images? (Yes or No).


Questions for Software Developers


Question 17:

Do you provide keyboard shortcuts to all function points in your applications? (Yes or No).


Question 18:

Do you use bit-map text in your applications? (Yes or No or Depends)


Question 19:

Do you use a logical tabbing order for navigating fields, text boxes, and focal points in your applications? (Yes or No).


Question 20:

Does your software support existing accessibility features built into the operating systems, such as "Sticky Keys," "Slow Keys," and "Repeat Keys." (Yes or No or Not Sure)


Question 21:

Do your software applications use standard controls or owner-drawn or custom controls? (Standard or Custom or Both).


Question 22:

Can the user override default fonts for printing and text displays in your applications? (Yes or No).


Question 23:

Do you make efforts to ensure that all auditory information is also provided in a visual form? (Yes or No).


This completes the questionnaire. Please feel free to enter any comments you would like to make below. Thank you kindly for taking part in this project.

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