Web 2.0 has quickly emerged as the primary driving factor behind future Internet growth, enabling new forms of interaction and content creation. The rapid proliferation in social networking, media sharing and knowledge discovery tools has provided many web users with unique opportunities for open communication, collaboration and freedom to share and reuse information.

Amidst this excitement however, is growing concern that Web 2.0 is responsible for declining web standards and therefore represents a potential step backwards for accessibility. Consequently, this has raised fears that disabled web users face new barriers, new forms of social exclusion. Of particular concern, are those with specific learning disorders, most notably people with dyslexia. As yet very few empirical studies have been conducted to examine the Web 2.0 phenomenon from the perspective of dyslexic web users. As a result little is known in terms of whether these types of services are a help or hindrance to people with dyslexia.

Through a combination of direct observation, eye tracking and participant feedback, user testing was performed to investigate how people with dyslexia interact with the social bookmarking service Del.icio.us. More specifically the research in this paper compared the behaviour and feedback of dyslexic and non-dyslexic web users, to identify possible accessibility and usability issues that people with dyslexia encounter whilst interacting with these types of information spaces. Based on the results obtained, existing design guidelines for dyslexia were reviewed in order to understand how applicable these are to social bookmarking applications, and Web 2.0 as a whole. Where necessary new guidelines were proposed.

Full Thesis:
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Thesis Advisor:
Panayiotis Zaphiris

Award Date:
October 1, 2008

Centre for HCI Design, School of Informatics, City University
London, UK

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