Master's thesis on app accessibility and the impact of end users' feedback

MediaLT has been collaborating with Master degree student Bjørg Andrea Lysbakken at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) in Gjøvik, as part of the project App-løftet (App-boost). The master thesis has now been published.

Story by: Magne Lunde - 21.08.2017

Which methods work best when reporting accessibility challenges in apps? What is the impact on producers of end-users' reporting of accessibility challenges? These are key questions in the App-løftet (App-boost) project, which MediaLT is conducting with the support of the Delta Center (UNIKT research program).

Only one of 50 problems fixed

Bjørg Andrea Lysbakken

In the project, MediaLT has collaborated with NTNU Gjøvik and Master degree student Bjørg Andrea Lysbakken. Her master's thesis deals with accessibility in mobile apps and how producers react to feedback from end users about accessibility issues in apps.

"Only one of 50 of the app issues reported was fixed within 30 days. This indicates that we still have some way to go to achieve an effective collaboration between end users and producers, which can improve app accessibility", Bjørg Andrea Lysbakken argues.

Repeated the test after a month

MediaLT supervised Lysbakken in regard to choosing the topic for the master's thesis and we contributed advice along the way. Feedback about accessibility issues in 50 apps from Norwegian top lists was submitted via App Store or Email. The accessibility challenges related to the use of the VoiceOver screen reader. After a month, the apps were re-tested to see if the issues had been resolved. In addition, three people were interviewed about their experiences of sending feedback on accessibility issues, and the effect this had.

Important that more people engage

Bjørg Andrea explains why she chose to focus on the topic of accessibility in ICT in her assignment: "It is about fairness. Everyone wanting to use digital products and services should be given the opportunity. Participation in society and access to important information is becoming more and more dependent on ICT-based solutions It is very important to ensure that these solutions work for everyone. It is clear that there are still many challenges in this area, and a need for more engagement, so that we can find good solutions together", Lysbakken emphasizes.

The project App-løftet has increased awareness

While Bjørg Andrea Lysbakken was working on the master's thesis, MediaLT started a Facebook App-løftet group where people can share app issues and collaborate to send feedback to producers. Bjørg Andrea explains that being a member of this group has given an insight into how many app issues screen reader users face every day, when they use screen readers like VoiceOver. "It has made a big impression," says Lysbakken.

Extra motivation to learn more

Lysbakken has now completed her Master in interaction design. She says that working with the thesis has given additional motivation to continue to learn more about accessibility and universal design in the future. "I will take all the new insights I have gained into working life, and I want to work to help develop apps and digital solutions that are accessible and user-friendly for all," ends Lysbakken.

We in MediaLT would like to thank Bjørg Andrea Lysbakken for good collaboration and congratulate her on her master's thesis.


Master's thesis: Digital feedback channels as platforms for solving accessibility problems

Facebook group: App-løftet

Website for the project App-løftet (App-boost)


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