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Studies and multimedia

File formats in "barrier freedom" test

The following consult the glossary file formats were tested:

1. Text-based file formats

2. Graphic-based file formats

3. Semi-graphic file formats


Mode of procedure in file-format tests (methodology)

File format selection:

The selection of the file formats to be tested reflected the use of the formats in courses offered at the Universitšt Karlsruhe (TH). In addition, formats were selected which are currently being used by our blind and partially-sighted students. For greater clarity we have separated the file formats into three groups: text-based, graphic-based and semi-graphic file formats.

Layout of the PDF-document for download questionnaire :

The questionnaire was split up into three blocks. The first block contained the technical prerequisites necessary to test the selected format. The entries requested were the operating systems used, programs and consult the glossary screenreader . In addition to definition of the type of consult the glossary visual impairment the student was asked to assess his/her own skills with reference to these elements. The second block inquired about the legibility of texts, tables, graphics, consult the glossary frames , mathematical expressions, images, hyperlinks, consult the glossary imagemaps , navigation aids etc. Questions in the third block referred to the creation of files and texts, where the study aids implemented and their accessibility were under investigation.
The students were given great scope to answer open questions concerning specific factors, problems, personal experiences and recommendations.
The tests were conducted in October and November 2002 and were subsequently discussed and evaluated during the course of several group meetings.

Result:

The tests clearly demonstrated the widely differing usability levels of the file formats depending on the students consult the glossaryvisual impairment.
Partially-sighted students submitted differing evaluations depending on the type and severity of the visual impairment concerned. Some students were able to use file formats which other students found to be inaccessible. In the case of the partially-sighted students in particular, a relationship was evident between the use of a file format and the individual students' previously-acquired skills. Some students know tricks enabling them to use formats which are difficult to access.


File-format test summaries

The summaries contain a brief assessment of the file formats we tested. They describe whether and how visually impaired students are able to work with the respective formats. The evaluations reflect the experiences of the blind and partially-sighted students and are to serve as recommendations for and against the use of a format within the scope of a course with respect to freedom from barriers.

1. Text-based file formats

2. Graphic-based file formats

3. Semi-graphic file formats

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