Experiences of People with Visual Impairments in Accessing Online Information and Services: A Systematic Literature Review

Shikha Shethia, Angsana A. Techatassanasoontorn


The World Wide Web is the largest source of electronic information in the world. Over the years, rapid advances in the internet have made it less accessible thereby making it increasingly difficult for people with visual impairments to access online information and services. This paper systematically reviews previous research to identify challenges that people with visual impairments face, and the role of accessibility technologies and guidelines to support people with visual impairments in their access to online information and services. The findings discuss three categories emerged from the literature: inaccessible content for the visually impaired, improving website accessibility for the visually impaired, and accessibility technologies and their benefits and limitations for people with visual impairments. The findings further discuss the usability issues which are present in accessing online content, the different attempts that have been made to mitigate these problems, and the different guidelines and tools that can be adopted by web designers to make websites more accessible for the visually impaired. It also discusses the versatility and availability of various accessibility technologies. Although these technologies provide basic access to online information, they are greatly limited in their functionality. Therefore, it is up to the web designers to change their perceptions when designing websites. With the proper use of the guidelines, the capabilities of accessibility technologies can be accommodated in making information provided accessible to all users including those with visual impairments. The contributions of this research are that it offers a rigorous narrative review to summarise the state of knowledge on challenges that people with visual impairments face in accessing online information and services, the support and limitations of accessibility technologies in addressing some of these challenges. In addition, this study identifies gaps and areas that deserve more scrutiny in future research including digital exclusion issues among the visually impaired, explanation on the unwillingness of web designers to develop accessible websites, improvements to accessibility technologies to support increasingly visually complex websites, among others. Since the visually impaired are a diverse group with different degrees of impairments, needs and preferences, we encourage researchers to involve them in future studies.


World Wide Web; accessibility; visual impairments; web designers; accessibility technology

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Shethia, S., & Techatassanasoontorn, A. A. (2019). Experiences of People with Visual Impairments in Accessing Online Information and Services: A Systematic Literature Review. Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 11(2), 39-66.