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Text Customization

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* The Text Customization Symposium main page on the WAI website is the starting point.
This page has additional background and internal planning notes.
* IMPORTANT NOTE to editors: Do not delete this page.
It is referenced from the main page for additional background information.


[Old Draft] Text Customization Topic Proposal

* See updated info in: Text Customization Symposium main page on the WAI website

{old intro} Users with low vision, dyslexia, and similar disabilities that impact reading need to be able to customize text in order to read effectively. Aspects of text formatting that users need to customize include: text size, text colour and background colour, font face, leading/line spacing, kerning, letter spacing, word spacing, line length, justification, and more. Which of these are necessary requirements for basic readability and which are optional suggestions to improve readability? What support is needed for user agent developers, standards developers, policy makers, web designers, and others to encourage them to provide the text customization functionality required by users?

{old} Title ideas

  • Text Customization for Readability,
    Customizing Text for Readability
  • Adapting Text for Readability,
    Text Adaptation for Readability
  • User Requirements for Text Customization,
    User Requirements for Customizing Text,
    Text Customization User Requirements
  • Text Adaptability for User Customization {I think the emphasis is wrong on this one ~shawn}
  • Research on Text Customization Functionality Requirements
  • Considerations for Text Customization Functionality Requirements
  • Text Customization for Better User Experience
  • Text Customization: Now and Then
  • Text Customization: Research Challenges
  • Research Challenges in Text Customization

Contacts

Page author: Shawn Henry

Other contact(s): ...

Keywords

People with low vision, visual processing disorders, dyslexia, and similar disabilities that impact reading; guidelines/standards; user agents; user interfaces

Description

See updated info in: Text Customization Symposium draft page

Background

...

Readability Beyond Legibility

{excerpt from Henry, S.L. (2012). Developing Text Customisation Functionality Requirements of PDF Reader and Other User Agents. In: Miesenberger, K.; Karshmer, A.; Klaus, J.; Zagler, W., eds. Proceedings of Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 13th International Conference, ICCHP 2012, Linz, Austria, July 11-13, 2012. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, pp. 602-609. DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-31522-0_91}

In order to understand the needs of people with low vision, dyslexia, and related conditions that impact reading, it is important understand the distinction between legibility and readability1. [3] Legibility is related to perceiving text by distinguishing letters. Readability is related to reading and comprehending textual information. Thus text could be somewhat legible to a user, yet not functionally readable; that is, with effort the user could distinguish one letter from another, but could not effectively read sentences because of the text formatting.

Many research studies on text legibility focused on perceiving small amounts of text [4]. Even many studies on readability use work periods as short as one to ten minutes [4]. A study on reading and visual fatigue found little negative effect after six hours of reading; however, these were people without print disabilities [5]. In the study reported in this paper, participants reported that strain, discomfort, and fatigue are significant limiting factors when reading text that is not well formatted for them.

The author assumes that many of the accessibility guidelines for electronic media are also focused on small amounts of text, such as website navigation, forms, and short descriptions. Thus the guidelines may be sufficient for legibility, but not for readability. ... To read large amounts of text, users need to be able to customize more aspects of text formatting.

Footnote 1: </a>In his seminal research, Tinker [4] used only the term legibility to avoid confusion with readability formulas for the level of difficulty of the language; however, most literature distinguishes between legibility and readability as used in this paper.

The Need for Text Customisation

{excerpt from Henry, S.L. (2012). Developing Text Customisation Functionality Requirements of PDF Reader and Other User Agents. In: Miesenberger, K.; Karshmer, A.; Klaus, J.; Zagler, W., eds. Proceedings of Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 13th International Conference, ICCHP 2012, Linz, Austria, July 11-13, 2012. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, pp. 602-609. DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-31522-0_91}

The primary finding from the literature review was that there is not a single text format that will meet most users needs; instead, users need to be able to customize text to meet their particular needs. The need for text customisation was supported by findings from this initial user study.

Research results and published guidelines have different recommendations for many aspects of text format. As just one example, leading/line spacing recommendations for people with low vision, dyslexia, or who are older, range from 1.25 to 2.0 [17-26].

Without customisation, a users’ needs can conflict with general best practice. For example, a participant with dyslexia said, “I write and read a lot better in all upper case”; whereas, all guidelines found in the literature review suggest avoiding all caps [e.g., 20-25].

Without customisation, one user’s needs can conflict with another user’s needs. For example, many people with declining eyesight due to ageing need high contract between text and background colour [24], [26]; whereas many people with dyslexia and other reading impairments need low contrast [14]. The participants in this study used a range of settings, from black text on a brown background to white text on black background. Regarding choosing from pre-defined text and background colour combinations, a participant said: “Someone else’s idea [of what I need] is useless.”

Not only are there differences between users, but an individual user’s needs can change. Participants in this study reported that their needs varied depending on the amount of text to be read, the time of day, fatigue, and complexity of the information.

In summary, the existing literature and the findings from this initial study clearly point to the requirement for users to be able to customize text according to their specific needs at a given time.

User Needs

{excerpt from Henry, S.L. (2012). Developing Text Customisation Functionality Requirements of PDF Reader and Other User Agents. In: Miesenberger, K.; Karshmer, A.; Klaus, J.; Zagler, W., eds. Proceedings of Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 13th International Conference, ICCHP 2012, Linz, Austria, July 11-13, 2012. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, pp. 602-609. DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-31522-0_91}

  • text size
  • linearization/reflow, e.g., changing from multiple columns to a single column
  • text colour and background colour
  • leading/line spacing
  • justification
  • text style, e.g., underlining, italics, all capital letters
  • other visual characteristics such as borders, margins, indentation
  • font face/typeface/font family
  • kerning, letter spacing, and word spacing
  • line length, i.e., the number of characters per line
  • hyphenation

Text customisation at the element level

Objectives/Discussion(Questions)

Drafts:

1- August draft

We invite papers on the following topics:

  • Text customization requirements
    • Which aspects of text customization are necessary requirements for people to be able to read text, and which are optional suggestions to improve readability?
    • What research and/or evidence supports each recommendation?
  • Responsibilities of content and user agents
    • What is the responsibility of web content and what is the responsibility of user agents in an ideal situation?
    • How are those related responsibilities working in current practice, e.g., web content needing to make up for missing user agent functionality?
    • How are those related responsibilities best handled in standards?
    • How do/can the different WAI standards (UAAG, WCAG, ATAG) address each aspect?
  • Support for designers and developers
    • What additional material is needed to support user agent designers and developers, for example, educational material?
    • What additional material is needed to support web content designers and developers, for example, WCAG Techniques?
  • User interfaces
    • Interfaces for providing text customization in mainstream user agents. How to help users customize text to meet their needs.
    • What can we learn from existing mainstream interfaces, existing AT interfaces, and prototype interfaces?
  • Technical feasibility
    • Technical feasibility of providing text customization functionality in different technologies and tools.
  • Impact of related text formatting
    • How does the relationship between the aspects of text formatting impact customization? For example, with large text size and narrow viewpane width, justification and hyphenation become more important. Perhaps an optimum system would suggest specific formatting based on some settings?
    • How does the character set impact text customization requirements and functionality? For example, is it more important to be able to customize specific aspects of text format for different types of character sets? {@@Shawn & Justin followup}
  • Ethnographic research
    • Studies of people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions and situations that impact reading -- including exploration of adaptive strategies used and parameters for improving text customization functionality to meet needs.

2- Rewrite for research

In this symposium we would like to address a number of related questions, including:

  • What text customisation activity do relevant user groups currently undertake?
  • How well do existing methods for supporting text customisation support the needs and circumstances of relevant user groups?
  • What aspects of text customisation are necessary to ensure basic readability (minimal accessibility), and what aspects might be considered optional suggestions to improve readability (optimum accessibility)?
  • What gaps in knowledge exist in terms of the text customisation needs of specific user groups, and the technical capability to support user needs in different contexts?
  • How successfully do current models of web accessibility provide an effective division of responsibility for supporting text customisation between user agent and web content? If success could be improved, how should this division of responsibility change?
  • How best can we improve 1) awareness of the concept of text customisation, and 2) discoverability and usability of text customisation functionality amongst users who could make use of it now or in the future?

We invite contributors to present research or position papers that attempt to answer one or more of the above questions. We particularly welcome submissions that describe:

  • Empirical (e.g. lab-based or ethnographic) studies of people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions that impact reading -- including exploration of user awareness of customisation functionality, adaptive strategies used, and parameters for improving text customization functionality to meet needs.
  • Evaluations of the quality, usability and effectiveness of text customisation functionality provided by user agents (natively or as extensions/add-ons), assistive technologies, operating systems, or as functionality provided in web content.
  • Evaluations of the effectiveness of existing best practice (guidelines, standards etc) on text presentation on specific relevant user groups
  • Investigations into the interplay of different aspects of text customisation on 1) readability of web content and 2) presentation of text customisation functionality.

3- Edit for action

In this symposium, we set out to:

  • Define the problem space: Outline text customization challenges presented by people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions and situations that make reading hard
  • Share and compare: Discuss what we know how text customization helps all readers readers
  • Synthesize and organize:  Analyze applied and experimental findings and integrate them into a summary that offers clear, directive findings that can be applied by professionals and practitioners
  • Guide:  Develop actionable, research-driven guidance for user agent developers, standards developers, policy makers, web designers, and others on integrating specific text customization functionality in mainstream web products; and
  • Shape: Recommend future research efforts that will help us understand and apply text customization techniques more effectively

We invite papers from the range of disciplines that address the following text customization issues and challenges:

Text customization: What is it? How does it help?

  • Which aspects of text customization improve readability? How does it help?
    • Which certain aspects of text customization necessary for people to be able to read effectively?
    • Which can improve readability, but are optional?

Integrating customization to improve readability

  • How do product developers/products integrate text customization today?
  • How do users interact with the text customization features that are built into products?
    • Which text-customization functionality do the use most? Why?
    • Which do they use least? Why?
  • How can text customization functions be extended or improved to better meet user needs?
    • What additional types of functionality could be added/embedded?
    • How can text customization tools and interfaces me made more intuitive and usable?
  • How effectively do user agents and web content share the responsibility for customizing text? How might this balance be improved?

Moving  forward

  • How might we increase developer/designer awareness of the needs and benefits of text customization functionality?
  • How can we improve discoverability and usability of text customization functionality in products and devices?
  • What emerging areas of reading, text customization and readability research show promise to inform and rapidly evolve text customization?

We particularly welcome submissions that describe:

  • Empirical (lab-based or ethnographic) studies of people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions that impact reading — including awareness of text customization functionality, adaptive strategies used, and parameters for improving text customization functionality to meet needs.
  • Evaluations of the scope, usability, and effectiveness of text customization functionality provided by user agents (natively or as extensions/add-ons), assistive technologies, or web content.

Important Dates

Organization

Chairs, Scientific Committee, and RDWG info is updated in the Symposium page section.

References

(Shawn has many relevant references. Listed here are some directly mentioned above or particularly relevant.)

  • Text Customization Requirements.
  • Gregor, P., Dickinson, A., Macaffer, A. and Andreasen, P. (2003), SeeWord—a personal word processing environment for dyslexic computer users. In British Journal of Educational Technology, 34: 341–355.
  • Hanson, V. and Richards, J. (2003) A web accessibility service: update and findings. In Proceedings of the 6th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and accessibility (Assets '04), 169-176. ACM, New York, NY, USA.
  • Hanson, V. (2004) The user experience: designs and adaptations. In Proceedings of the 2004 international cross-disciplinary workshop on Web accessibility (W4A) (W4A '04), 1-11. ACM, New York, NY, USA.
  • Richards, J. and Hanson, V. (2004) Web accessibility: a broader view. In Proceedings of the 13th international conference on World Wide Web (WWW '04), 72-79. ACM, New York, NY, USA.
  • Poole, A. (2008) Which Are More Legible: Serif or Sans Serif Typefaces? http://alexpoole.info/which-are-more-legible-serif-or-sans-serif-typefaces
  • Tinker, M.A. (1963) Legibility of Print. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
  • About Adobe Reader X

Planning Notes

Actions:

  • {done} Action 10: Shawn - Talk informally with people about interest and work in Text Customization
  • {done} Action 9: Shawn - Talk with Andrea about idea of combining topics (Easy to Read & Text Customization)

Goals

For this symposium:

  • Encourage new research on text customization for readability (tc4r)
  • Encourage analysis of broader research to focus on tc4r - e.g., studies where tc was one small aspect of the paper, to write up more on the tc aspect of the study
  • Collect and analyze what we know about tc4r and what are open questions about tc4r
  • Provide all that in a clear symposium package of proceedings and report
  • Suggest next steps and encourage follow-up

Ultimate goal: (that is, we probably won't be able to do enough of below with this symposium, but this is what we're working towards)

  • Provide support for user agent developers and web designers to include specific text customization functionality in mainstream web products
  • Provide support for including tc4r requirements in standards & guidelines.

Note:

  • Some people think that many user agents do not provide sufficient tc4r, and what is there is not sufficiently discoverable or usable.
  • Some people think that many current standards & guidelines do not include sufficient requirements for tc4r.


Back to the list of topics.