"It's Just Everything Outside of the IDE that's the Problem": Information Seeking by Software Developers with Visual Impairments

ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(2021)


Many efforts to increase accessibility in coding for developers with visual impairments (DWVI) have focused on supporting interactions with interactive development environments and source code. However, in order to understand how to appropriately modify and write source code, developers must seek and synthesize information from a variety of disparate and highly technical sources. DWVI might benefit from technological support in this process. But, it is unclear what accessibility issues arise in technical information sources, whether accessibility impacts strategies for seeking technical information, or how best to support DWVI in this process. We conducted observations and interviews with twelve DWVI, about their information seeking behaviors. We found that, DWVI seek information in many of the same sources as their sighted peers, and the accessibility issues identified in technical information sources were similar to those in nontechnical sources. Yet, despite these similarities, accessibility considerations impacted information seeking in highly nuanced ways.