Towards Barrier-free Reading in the Digital Age: Electronic Texts for the Visually Impaired

Robert Ree


Despite human-centered approaches to the development of electronic text, the visually impaired remain particularly susceptible to oversight. The digital realm has a strong bias toward visually-oriented representation, and is generally unaware of accessibility issues. To overcome this potential digital divide, efforts are underway in the development of both assistive reading technologies and accessible design practices. In examining this work and surrounding issues, it is revealed that rethinking the ‘mental model’ of reading holds much promise in enabling visually impaired users to explore, in non-linear fashion, the rich ‘spatial structures’ possible in electronic texts.


digital reading, hypertext, phenomenology of reading, theory

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