The Internet for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Authors

  • Kirsty Williamson,

    Corresponding author
    1. All of the authors are present, or past, staff of Information and Telecommunications Needs Research (ITNR), a joint venture of School of Information Management and Systems, Monash University, Victoria, Australia and School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. At Monash University, ITNR is within the Enterprise Information Research Group (EIRG). Kirsty Williamson is the Director of ITNR; Don Schauder is the Chair; Louise Stockfeld is Research Associate and Steve Wright is Research Fellow. Amanda Bow is a former Research Associate. The present article reflects the philosophy of ITNR which has a specifically ‘user’ focus in relation to information and telecommunications needs of community groups. In the last 2 years, ITNR has undertaken two major projects about online services for people with disabilities funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government. Another project, funded by the Australian Research Council, was specifically about people who are blind and sight-impaired and is the focus of the present article.
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  • Steve Wright,

    Corresponding author
    1. All of the authors are present, or past, staff of Information and Telecommunications Needs Research (ITNR), a joint venture of School of Information Management and Systems, Monash University, Victoria, Australia and School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. At Monash University, ITNR is within the Enterprise Information Research Group (EIRG). Kirsty Williamson is the Director of ITNR; Don Schauder is the Chair; Louise Stockfeld is Research Associate and Steve Wright is Research Fellow. Amanda Bow is a former Research Associate. The present article reflects the philosophy of ITNR which has a specifically ‘user’ focus in relation to information and telecommunications needs of community groups. In the last 2 years, ITNR has undertaken two major projects about online services for people with disabilities funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government. Another project, funded by the Australian Research Council, was specifically about people who are blind and sight-impaired and is the focus of the present article.
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  • Don Schauder,

    Corresponding author
    1. All of the authors are present, or past, staff of Information and Telecommunications Needs Research (ITNR), a joint venture of School of Information Management and Systems, Monash University, Victoria, Australia and School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. At Monash University, ITNR is within the Enterprise Information Research Group (EIRG). Kirsty Williamson is the Director of ITNR; Don Schauder is the Chair; Louise Stockfeld is Research Associate and Steve Wright is Research Fellow. Amanda Bow is a former Research Associate. The present article reflects the philosophy of ITNR which has a specifically ‘user’ focus in relation to information and telecommunications needs of community groups. In the last 2 years, ITNR has undertaken two major projects about online services for people with disabilities funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government. Another project, funded by the Australian Research Council, was specifically about people who are blind and sight-impaired and is the focus of the present article.
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  • Amanda Bow

    Corresponding author
    1. All of the authors are present, or past, staff of Information and Telecommunications Needs Research (ITNR), a joint venture of School of Information Management and Systems, Monash University, Victoria, Australia and School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. At Monash University, ITNR is within the Enterprise Information Research Group (EIRG). Kirsty Williamson is the Director of ITNR; Don Schauder is the Chair; Louise Stockfeld is Research Associate and Steve Wright is Research Fellow. Amanda Bow is a former Research Associate. The present article reflects the philosophy of ITNR which has a specifically ‘user’ focus in relation to information and telecommunications needs of community groups. In the last 2 years, ITNR has undertaken two major projects about online services for people with disabilities funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government. Another project, funded by the Australian Research Council, was specifically about people who are blind and sight-impaired and is the focus of the present article.
    Search for more papers by this author

Address: School of Information Management and Systems, Level 7, 26 Sir John Monash Dve, Monash University, Caulfield East Vic 3145. Tel (03)99031083 FAX (03)99032005.

Abstract

A qualitative study of fifteen blind or visually impaired persons and sixteen professionals who work with blind and visually impaired persons sought to explore the potential role of the Internet in information provision for this group of people. Traditional forms of access to information such as print have meant that people who are blind and visually impaired have more difficulty in accessing the same range of information that people who are sighted take for granted. Increasingly, computers are being viewed as the solution to the problem of access to the printed word. This study sought to understand the role of the Internet in information provision, within the context of other sources of information and everyday information needs. The article presents findings about the current ways in which people who are blind and visually impaired find information for their everyday lives; the role of the Internet in this process; barriers to using computers and the Internet; and three case studies in information seeking.

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