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Investigating the Accessibility and Usability of Job Application Web Sites for Blind Users

Jonathan Lazar, Abiodun Olalere, and Brian Wentz

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, February 2012, pp. 68 - 87

Abstract

Most companies today place their job advertisements online and frequently require that applications for jobs be submitted online. Unfortunately, many online employment Web sites are inaccessible to users with disabilities, preventing these individuals from even applying for jobs online. Previous studies have used automated tools or expert reviews to evaluate the accessibility of online employment applications. This study involved 16 blind, screen-reader users, attempting to apply for jobs online. Two applications were submitted to each of 16 companies in the southeastern United States, for a total of 32 applications submitted. Many of the online employment application processes were inaccessible to blind users, and users repeatedly asked for assistance from the researchers when they faced accessibility problems. Only 9/32 (28.1%) of application attempts could be completed independently without any assistance. This report details the problems discovered during the usability testing and discusses the most common problems for blind users, as well as problems related to general usability. It also provides suggestions for improvement, including providing accessible feedback, unique and clear hyperlink text, properly structured layout, logical grouping of questions, clearly identified data format and required form fields, and conducting regular accessibility evaluations. It is essential that companies ensure that their online employment applications are accessible and usable for all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.

Practitioner’s Take Away

The following are key points for practitioners from this study:

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Investigating the Accessibility and Usability of Job Application Web Sites for Blind Users