What’s New?: Making Web Page Updates Accessible

1) Yevgen Borodin, 2) Jeffrey P. Bigham, 1) Rohit Raman and I. V. Ramakrishnan


1) Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
2) University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA


Web applications facilitated by technologies such as JavaScript, DHTML, AJAX, and Flash use a considerable amount of dynamic web content that is either inaccessible or unusable by blind people. Server side changes to web content cause whole page refreshes, but only small sections of the page update, causing blind web users to search linearly through the page to find new content. The connecting theme is the need to quickly and unobtrusively identify the segments of a web page that have changed and notify the user of them. In this paper we propose Dynamo, a system designed to unify different types of dynamic content and make dynamic content accessible to blind web users. Dynamo treats web page updates uniformly and its methods encompass both web updates enabled through dynamic content and scripting, and updates resulting from static page refreshes, form submissions, and template-based web sites. From an algorithmic and interaction perspective Dynamo detects underlying changes and provides users with a single and intuitive interface for reviewing the changes that have occurred. We report on the quantitative and qualitative results of an evaluation conducted with blind users. These results suggest that Dynamo makes access to dynamic content faster, and that blind web users like it better than existing interfaces.

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