G1. Avoidance of format, approach, or features

Situation Definition:

A situation that arises from the avoidance of a specific file format (e.g., image), a certain approach to retrieve information (e.g., browsing a collection), or a specific DL feature (e.g., advanced/dynamic/embedded feature)

Factor(s) Leading to the Situation:

    • Inadequate knowledge:

    • Inadequate knowledge:

    • Inadequate support:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

Guideline or Design Recommendation:

    1. Offer assistance in using visual items, browsing collections, and interacting with advanced/dynamic/embedded features
    2. Provide explanations on using visual items, browsing collections, and interacting with advanced/dynamic/embedded features using keyboard commands

Rationale and Objective:

Image items, browsing approach, advanced search, and dynamic/embedded features are visually oriented by DL design, so

users find these features difficult and complex to use (1). Although advanced search features are relatively popular among sighted users, those features are harder for blind DL users to use if they do not have any context about them or they find those features to be overly complex (2). Instructions could help blind DL users understand how to manipulate and activate these features without sight. The purpose and operation of features such as

, advanced search features, and dynamic/embedded DL functions may not be obvious without sight, thereby prompting BVI users to avoid them. Using meaningful

for such features could aid their detection by listening and clearly convey their purpose/function, thereby helping BVI users.

Techniques and Methods:

1.1. Provide an invisible link indicating the availability of a transcript, description, or summary for each of the visual

and information about how to access it
1.2. Provide an overview of how the

are classified at the beginning of the browse section
1.3. Provide clear

to specify browse categories and search/dynamic/embedded features
1.4. Provide tips for the feature currently on keyboard focus, including the advanced (utility of the components), dynamic (the change of features), and embedded feature (availability of the feature), along with how to use it
2.1. Provide clear information, user tutorials, and demonstrations on how to use visual items; how to locate and understand browse categories; and availability of advanced/dynamic/embedded features using keyboard commands

Recommended Features:

1.1. Invisible links (See example 1.1)
1.2. Overview of the browse categories (See example 1.2)
1.3. Clear labels (See example 1.3)
1.4. Help tips (See example 1.4)
2.1. Tutorials and demonstrations (See example 2.1)


1.1. Invisible links: How to example

Invisible link added: Skip to Transcript to activate text tab if provided.

<a href= “#SkipToTranscript” title= “Skip to transcript” id= “skip_nav”>Skip to transcript</a>

March on Milwaukee interface with emphasis box indicating invisible link above navigation menu

1.2. Overview of the browse categories: Good design

Library of Congress Digital Collections provides an overview of a collection to help users understand what it is and how it is categorized.

Overview entitled "About this Collection" which includes information on the number of items, the types of items, and date spans

1.3. Clear labels: How-to example and good design

Label the Search box as “Find” so that users can better understand its purpose. Also, add placeholder text such as “Find a collection” so that users can know that box is for finding collections. All features and titles should have text names so that users can easily understand what it is.

Search interface featuring "Find" box with clear label of "Find a collection" as placeholder text

1.4. Help tips: Good design

Library of Congress Digital Collections provides tips for how to use Advanced search.

List of Advanced Search Tips including wildcard characters, Boolean operators, and drop-down list options

2.1. Tutorials and demonstrations: Good design

Instructions for activating or de-activating the auto-completion feature are provided in Chrome.

Step-by-step instructions for changing auto-completion settings in Chrome

Related resources:

    1. Xie, I., Babu, R., LeeT., Castillo, M., You, S. & Hanlon, A. (2020). Enhancing usability of digital libraries: Designing help features to support blind and visually impaired usersInformation Processing and Management, 57(3), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ipm.2019.102110
    2. Xie, I., Babu, R., Castillo, M. & Han, H. (2018) Identification of factors associated with blind users’ help-seeking situations in interacting with digital librariesJournal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology, 69(4), 514-527.

See also:

Help-seeking Situations > A. Difficulty accessing information

Help-seeking Situations > C. Difficulty with help

Help-seeking Situations > F. Confusion about multiple programs and DL structures