Audible Healthcare Online : Towards Online Digital Healthcare Services Accessible for Users of Screen Readers
Sammanfattning: In the last few years, and especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare services have been moving online. Today, patients can book appointments with doctors and read their medical records in apps and web services. It is important that these services are equally accessible to all patients, regardless of for example disability. This study aims to identify opportunities and challenges in adapting these digital healthcare services towards increasing accessibility for screen reader users with visual impairments. Eight people with visual impairments participated in the study, whereof five had complete vision loss and three had low vision. First, the participants were interviewed about their experiences of using screen readers as well as their views on digital healthcare. Secondly, a usability test was conducted on an existing system at the online health service provider Kry. The interviews indicated that screen reader users face a lot of accessibility barriers online, and therefore might be hesitant towards using digital healthcare. Yet, accessible digital healthcare can bring positive consequences such as making people with visual impairments more independent in handling medical documents and communication with clinicians. Many of the common barriers mentioned, such as unlabelled buttons and missing alternative text for images were found in the usability test of the Kry app. Some barriers even caused dead ends, resulting in that only three out or eight tasks in the usability test were completed by all the participants. From the results of the interviews and usability test, this study proposes a set of recommendations for achieving screen reader friendly online services. The recommendations include for example prioritising simple navigation, always providing alternative text and to test with assistive technology. The recommendations are applicable to other types of services as well, although they might be extra important in the digital healthcare sector where accessibility is of extra high importance.
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