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Usability Evaluation of Email Applications by Blind Users

Brian Wentz and Jonathan Lazar

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 6, Issue 2, February 2011, pp. 75 - 89


In this article, we discuss results of usability evaluations of desktop and web-based email applications used by those who are blind. Email is an important tool for workplace communication, but computer software and websites can present accessibility and usability barriers to blind users who use screen readers to access computers and websites.

To identify usability problems that blind users have with email, 15 blind users tested seven commonly used email applications. Each user tested two applications, so each application was tested by three to five users. From the results, we identify several ways to improve email applications so that blind people can use them more easily. The findings of this study should also assist employers as they make decisions about the types of email applications that they will use within their organizations. This exploratory research can serve as a focus for more extensive studies in the future.

Practitioner’s Take Away

The following are key points from this study:

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Usability Evaluation of Email Applications by Blind Users