Computer access has become essential for everyone to fully and equally participate in the society. Due to disability, aging, literacy or computer literacy related barriers, many people need to use an assistive/access technology (AT) to gain computer access. However, a majority of people facing access barriers are not getting proper AT partly due to a shortage of sufficiently trained professionals and difficulties in selecting AT by consumers themselves. Work of this dissertation was carried out as an effort to bridge knowledge gaps in the area of decision-making and decision-support for AT selection, and to provide design implications for a decision support tool that facilitates consumers in AT selection—the Shopping/Alerting Interface.
This dissertation consists of 3 studies. Study 1 investigated how individual consumers (N = 8) select AT by themselves and how professionals (N = 10) select AT for clients, identified information needs, and drew implications for decision support design. This study inspired a support design that enables consumers to browse AT products by access needs/difficulties, in addition to browsing by product types/features (as in most shopping sites today). This study also highlighted the need of consumers to be able to search in their lay language, which led to Study 2—a vocabulary study on collecting words and phrases that consumers (N = 368) would naturally use to describe access needs/difficulties and access solutions. This vocabulary was integrated into the Shopping/Alerting Interface to enhance its free-text searching. As a result of Study 1 & 2, the user can browse and search for AT products by product types/features (feature-based support), or by access needs/difficulties (need-based support ). Study 3 empirically compared AT selection when consumers used feature-based support alone, need-based support alone, and both support methods together (hybrid support). The participants (N = 72) made better selections using need-based support than the conventional feature-based support. With need-based support, the participants also put forth less searching effort (fewer searches and fewer products explored in depth) and made as good selections as using hybrid support. However, the consumers preferred having both available (hybrid support), even though it did not significantly improve product choices. Implications were drawn for designing decision support systems.
|Advisor:||Wiegmann, Douglas A.|
|Commitee:||Lee, John D., Smith, Catherine A., Smith, Roger O., Vanderheiden, Gregg C., Werner, Nicole E.|
|School:||The University of Wisconsin - Madison|
|School Location:||United States -- Wisconsin|
|Source:||DAI-B 80/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Engineering, Industrial engineering|
|Keywords:||Accessibility, Assistive technology, Consumer vocabulary, Decision support system, Information retrieval|
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