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Getting Into Digital Humanities III - Struggles With A Happy Ending

For my current research in my eye-tracking course on web accessibility, I had to write a abstract.

What's an abstract

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis, dissertation or research paper). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

by Shona McCombes for scribbr.

The professor sent us students some examples of what an abstract might look like, so I copied the format and used it for mine.

So here is my abstract.

Abstract in old format. Content can be read in the collapsible

Abstract in written form

Are You Aware Of Web Accessibility? An Eye Tracking Study On Web Accessibility.

Julia Undeutsch

University of Vienna, Austria


In the present study, awareness of accessibility on the web was investigated. 14 people of different ages and backgrounds participated in this experiment and were asked to view homepages in terms of structure and accessibility. Each participant was provided with 10 different screenshots of homepages to view for 20 seconds using the EyeLink1000 Plus, with no tabletop mount but a target sticker placed on the head, implying free movement of the head. After the eye-tracking experiment, each participant had to answer a questionnaire and could look at the homepages again in printed form without a time limit. Questions were asked about the structure, appearance, style, and accessibility of the homepages, which the participant was asked to rate as very poor or very good. For the accessibility question, the participant was then asked to answer why they rated the homepage as accessible or not accessible using keywords. Finally, participants were asked to rate the top three homepages that they personally prefer. The results show that even though not all participants said they knew exactly what web accessibility was, the two most accessible websites were at the top of the ratings. Almost all of the major keywords about what makes a website accessible and what does not are omnipresent. There were slight differences in participants' ratings for the most accessible homepages and those they personally preferred. Indeed, a good user experience cannot be generalized and often means different things to people with and without disabilities.

Keywords: eye tracking, web accessibility, digital humanities, visual attention

In case you haven't noticed it yet yourself: What bothers me here is that it seems to be the norm to use justified text, which can make the text unreadable for people with low vision who need to use a magnifier to zoom in.

When justified text is used, extra white space is automatically inserted between words to fill the line. This space is sometimes too wide, so people zooming into the text might think the sentence is already over, or get confused about where the sentence continues.

A few years ago, I also used this format for all my final papers, but now that I know what a burden it can be for some people, I don't like it anymore.

Happy ending

I was conflicted. What should I do now? I want a good grade, of course, and I don't want to risk it because of a format. But at the same time I don't want to create content with the knowledge that it is not accessible.

I thought, I can't be the first to notice and be bothered by this, so google is my friend.

LOL, luckily I did. It just seems to have been a coincidence that all the ones sent by the professor had this format, left justified is perfectly fine.

I edited it and sent it again to the professor in the new format. Now I am reassured.

Updated abstract. Same content as in the collapsible

What would you do? Stick to the norm to be able to get a good grade or stand up for your values? For now, I'm glad that I didn't have to make this decision in the end.

Top comments (4)

raibtoffoletto profile image
RaΓ­ B. Toffoletto

Always stick with your beliefs! And in your case if you thought that a non justified abstract would be a problem I'd insert a small introductory phrase saying that "nowadays awareness of accessibility practices is not a common though fpr many people, for example justified text blocks may interfer with the readability of a text for many people". Something like that 😁

raibtoffoletto profile image
RaΓ­ B. Toffoletto

PS: Interesting research and article, kudos!

yuridevat profile image
Julia πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’» GDE

Thanks RaΓ­.

yuridevat profile image
Julia πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’» GDE

Thatβ€˜s great! Thanks for your suggestion πŸ˜‡