Self-assessed and actual Internet skills of people with visual impairments

Thea van der Geest, Hans van der Meij, M.C.J. van Puffelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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The Internet can make available to people with a visual impairment information and services that are otherwise inaccessible. But do visually impaired users actually use common Internet applications and do they have the necessary skills? This article reports a two-part study addressing these questions. The first part was an interview study in which 73 young and 69 older Dutch people with a visual impairment were questioned about usage of applications such as e-mail, chat, and web forms, and their self-perceived competence. The young participants reported more frequent use of Internet applications and mentioned multiple goals (i.e., social and educational), compared to the older. Both groups considered themselves reasonably competent, with the young rating themselves higher. The second part was a case study with 20 young and 20 older participants from the first study, who performed common Internet tasks, using websites or applications that complied with accessibility guidelines. Task performance was analyzed in detail for demonstrated skills. Actual performance proved to be unrelated to self-rated competence. Moreover, the competence of both young and older participants fell far short of what active participation in society requires, especially for the more complex information and strategic skills. The success rate on the performance tasks was low. People with a visual impairment should receive extensive support for the acquisition of higher-level skills that are called upon when using Internet information and services in order to participate in society
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-174
Number of pages14
JournalUniversal access in the information society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2014


  • IR-86545
  • METIS-296835


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