Blind Students' Challenges in Social Media Communication: An Early Investigation of Facebook Usability for Informal Learning

Blind Students' Challenges in Social Media Communication: An Early Investigation of Facebook Usability for Informal Learning

Rakesh Babu (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/ijopcd.2015010105
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Abstract

Social Networking Sites (SNS) are increasingly used in academia to facilitate informal learning, knowledge co-creation, and collaborative problem-solving. Deriving these pedagogic benefits requires SNS usability for all. This paper reports results of an early investigation into SNS usability for blind students. Think-aloud observations generated verbal evidence of six participants' Facebook interaction experiences. Verbal protocol analysis revealed where and how challenges arose in online social interactions. Design standards analysis identified responsible interface elements and potential remedial measures. Results show that locating Friend's profile and Timeline, reading, writing, and posting messages were significantly challenging. Participants needed additional time and effort, and occasionally sighted help, to perform these basic SNS functions that are integral parts of informal learning activities. Feasible design improvements are proposed that merit further investigation. Implications for educators, learning technologists, cognitive scientists, and usability experts are discussed.
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