✦ Vision Impairment is a prevalent health problem worldwide.
✦ 285 million are visually impaired globally.
✦ 6.6 million are visually impaired in the US.
✦ How do the visually impaired people use the Internet
✦ Visually impaired people engage with online social
networks through technologies such as:
✦ OCR Readers
✦ Screen Readers
✦ They access online networks through Desktop and
✦ Behaviour of visually impaired users differ signiﬁcantly from
behavioural patterns of other users?
✦ What kind of content do they produce and share on Social
✦ How are visually impaired users’ social networks structured?
✦ Analysis focuses on Facebook mobile users through VoiceOver.
✦ Facebook’s mobile interface is more accessible and usable for
blind users than Desktop version.
Visually Impaired Users
Random sample of Users
✦ Country: Sample of vision-impaired users are highly skewed
towards people from developed western countries.
✦ Age: Both samples are skewed towards young adults. Average age
for VoiceOver sample is 30.14 years & iOS sample is 30.43 years.
✦ Gender: Both genders are well represented in two samples.
✦ Users are mostly younger and are with relatively high income.
✦ How visually impaired users engage with these 4 types of
✦ Status updates
✦ Photo Sharing
✦ Comments &
✦ What do visually impaired users do on Facebook?
✦ How do other users interact with the visually impaired?
Per user activity over three weeks, bootstrap averaged across user samples
Question asking behaviour
✦ Overall, question asking behaviour is rare in both populations
and asking questions about photos is uncommon.
✦ This result is partly explained by the smaller number of photos
uploaded by VoiceOver users.
✦ Top 10 words from the VoiceOver sample by both metrics are
related to vision disability, while words from iOS sample are very
✦ Compared to other iPhone users, VoiceOver users on Facebook
are much more likely to discuss vision impairment and
accessibility issues found in both the physical world and on the
✦ This data helps to distinguish visually impaired users from other
social media users.
✦ Why do visually impaired users’ photos not receive as much
feedback from others as their status updates do ?
✦ Many photos uploaded by visually impaired users are automatically
created by apps instead of users themselves.
✦ Sighted users may consider these images spammy and ignore them.
✦ Visually impaired users openly talk about their experiences and
issues with vision disability and web accessibility.
✦ Can the openness we observe in vision-impaired users be a result of
their social networks being denser than average?
✦ What could be the reason behind visually impaired users receiving
more comments and likes ?
✦ Is it because they have more friends (and thus a bigger audience)
than an average user ?
✦ VoiceOver median friend count of 208 is lower than the iOS
median of 242.
✦ VoiceOver users have on average been on Facebook for 38
months compared to 46 months for the iOS sample.
✦ The level of diversity in personal social networks is almost identical for
users from the VoiceOver sample and users from iOS sample.
✦ Most visually impaired users have closely connected social networks with
a few communities, but this is also true for other users on Facebook.
✦ Visually impaired users don’t have denser than average networks over all.
Interconnectivity among visually impaired users.
✦ Visually impaired users are more likely to friend other visually impaired
✦ Visually impaired users use Facebook just like normal
✦ They receive more feedback than average user.
✦ They can use Facebook as an utility to openly share their
experience, voice their concerns and receive attention and
support from others.
✦ Difference in network size between two groups diminished
over time – progress towards increasingly equal and
accessible online environment.
Limitations of the study
✦ Users who access Facebook with VoiceOver and iPhones.
✦ Users are from developed countries with high-economic
✦ History and severity of vision impairment of Users is not taken
✦ Studied only Facebook users.
✦ Auto-detection of users’ vision impairment could help online
services to recognize this underserved market.
✦ Auto-detection of visually impaired users could also enable
online services to better adapt to their needs.
✦ Currently, there is no a standard and effective method to
identify visually impaired users.
✦ If identiﬁed, we can redirect visually impaired users to the
accessible version of websites.