February 27, 2016

How Blind People Interact with Visual Content on Social Networking Services

Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing

By: Violeta Voykinska, Shiri Azenkot, Shaomei Wu, Gilly Leshed

Abstract

In this paper, we explore blind people’s motivations, challenges, interactions, and experiences with visual content on Social Networking Services (SNSs). We present findings from an interview study of 11 individuals and a survey study of 60 individuals, all with little to no functional vision. Compared to sighted SNS users, our blind participants faced profound accessibility challenges, including the prevalence of photos without sufficient text descriptions. To overcome the challenges, they developed creative strategies, including using a variety of methods to access SNS features (e.g., opening the mobile site on a desktop browser), and inferring photo content from textual cues and social interactions. When strategies failed, participants reached out for help from trusted friends, or avoided certain features. We discuss our findings in the context of CSCW research and SNS accessibility as a design value. We highlight the social significance of photo interactions for blind people and suggest design practices.