A Newly Developed Web-Based Resource on Genetic Eye Disorders for Users With Visual Impairment (Gene.Vision): Usability Study
Journal of Medical Internet Research
Despite the introduction of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and legislations, many websites remain poorly accessible to users with disability, especially those with visual impairment, as the internet has become a more visually complex environment. With increasing reliance on the internet and almost 2 million people in the United Kingdom being affected by vision loss, it is important that they are not overlooked when developing web-based materials. A significant proportion of those
... ted have irreversible vision loss due to rare genetic eye disorders, and many of them use the internet as a primary source of information for their conditions. However, access to high-quality web-based health information with an inclusive design remains a challenge for many. We have developed a new web-based resource for genetic eye disorders called Gene.Vision that aims to provide a holistic guide for patients, relatives, and health care professionals. by sight loss, it is important that they are not overlooked when developing web-based materials. A significant proportion of those affected have irreversible sight loss due to rare genetic eye disorders, and many of them use the internet as a primary source of information for their conditions. However, access to high-quality web-based health information with an inclusive design remains a challenge for many. Through a usability testing session of our website prototype, this study aims to identify key web-based accessibility features for internet users with vision impairment and to explore whether the contents provided in Gene.Vision are relevant and comprehensible. A face-to-face testing session with 8 participants (5 patients, 2 family members, and 1 member of the public) and 8 facilitators was conducted on a prototype website. Remote testing was performed with another patient due to COVID-19 restrictions. Home page design, navigation, content layout and quality, language, and readability were explored through direct observation and task completion using the think-aloud method. A patient focus group was organized to elicit further feedback. Qualitative data were gathered and analyzed to identify core themes through open and axial coding. All participants had good computer literacy; 6 patients with visual impairment used visual aid software including iOS VoiceOver and Speak Screen, iOS Classic Invert, ZoomText 2020, Job Access With Speech, and Nonvisual Desktop Access. The features identified by the participants that will enhance accessibility and usability for users with visual impairment were a consistent website layout, a structured information hierarchy with a clear description of links, good chromatic and luminance contrast, a simple home page with predictable and easy navigation, adaptability to various assistive software, and readable and relevant content. They reported that dynamic content (such as carousels) and large empty spaces reduced accessibility. Information on research, support available, practical advice, and links to charities were incentives for repeated website visits. We demonstrated the importance of developing a website with a user-based approach. Through end user testing, we identified several key web-based accessibility features for people with visual impairment. Target end users should always be involved early and throughout the design process to ensure their needs are met. Many of these steps can be implemented easily and will aid in search engine optimization.