Understanding screen readers' plugins

Farhani Momotaz, Md Touhidul Islam, Md Ehtesham-Ul-Haque, Syed Masum Billah

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Screen reader plugins are small pieces of code that blind users can download and install to enhance the capabilities of their screen readers. In this paper, we aim to understand the user experience of screen readers' plugins, as well as their developers, distribution model, and maintenance. To this end, we conducted a study with 14 blind screen reader users. Our study revealed that screen reader users rely on plugins for various reasons, e.g., to improve the usability of both screen readers and application software, to make partially accessible applications accessible, and to enable custom shortcuts and commands. Furthermore, installing plugins is easy; uninstalling them is unlikely; and finding them online is ad hoc, challenging, and poses security threats. In addition, developing screen reader plugins is technically demanding; only a handful of people develop plugins, and they are well-recognized in the community. Finally, there is no central repository for plugins for most screen readers, and most plugins do not receive updates from their developers and become obsolete. The lack of financial incentives plays in the slow growth of the plugin ecosystem. Based on our findings, we recommend creating a central repository for all plugins, engaging third-party developers, and raising general awareness about the benefits and dangers of plugins. We believe our findings will inspire researchers to embrace the plugin-based distribution model as an effective way to combat application-level accessibility issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationASSETS 2021 - 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450383066
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 17 2021
Event23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, ASSETS 2021 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Oct 18 2021Oct 22 2021

Publication series

NameASSETS 2021 - 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility

Conference

Conference23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, ASSETS 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period10/18/2110/22/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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