American Journal of Information Systems
ISSN (Print): 2374-1953 ISSN (Online): 2374-1988 Website: Editor-in-chief: Sergii Kavun
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American Journal of Information Systems. 2014, 2(2), 33-41
DOI: 10.12691/ajis-2-2-2
Open AccessArticle

Can Blind People Use Social Media Effectively? A Qualitative Field Study of Facebook Usability

Rakesh Babu1,

1School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee, United States

Pub. Date: March 17, 2014

Cite this paper:
Rakesh Babu. Can Blind People Use Social Media Effectively? A Qualitative Field Study of Facebook Usability. American Journal of Information Systems. 2014; 2(2):33-41. doi: 10.12691/ajis-2-2-2


Social media allow people to communicate, collaborate and socialize for personal and professional matters. However, their sight-centered design can present access and usability problems for the blind. Existing quantitative approaches to usability testing do not provide in-depth assessment of the problem. This paper presents a qualitative approach to test social media usability, and illustrates its application to evaluate Facebook for the blind. Think-aloud observation of six blind participants generated verbal evidence of their Facebook interaction experiences. Verbal protocol analysis explained the nature of interaction challenges in performing common Facebook functions. Design standards analysis explained design errors in Facebook interface. It helped identify remedial measures to potentially improve Facebook usability. Findings demonstrate the utility of the qualitative approach to feasibly evaluate social media usability for blind users. It shows how blind users think, act and perceive in performing common social media functions non-visually. This has implications for the design of non-visual user interfaces to access social media through ‘Internet of Things’ and in multi-tasking situations.

Social media usability blind user verbal protocol analysis Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Non-Visual Interaction

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