People with disability

Image of wheelchair.


The use of chats is being increased; however, they cannot be used by everybody because they present accessibility barriers. This study aims to obtain the problems that people with disabilities face when they use chats.


Firstly, the Persona method has been combined with the Scenario method in order to obtain general problems that people with disabilities (Motor, Visual, Cognitive, and Hearing impairments) experience. Five personas with different characteristics were created. For instance, a Persona, David, was created to represent a person with learning disabilities. Through this method some of the challenges that people with learning disabilities could experience were detected.

Image of David.

David is described through his name, age, background and currently ocupation as well as how he use new technologies and mobile devices. Next, the characteristicas of David persona are detailed.

  • Name: David
  • Age: 32
  • Background: He is studying at the university, but he has some learning and speech problems which make him difficult to learn in the same way as other people. He is not used to new technologies and is learning how to use mobile devices and laptops.
  • Description: David has a new mobile and he is starting to use it. Sometimes, he has some difficulties to learn how to execute some tasks. Besides, it is not easy for him to memorize how to complete tasks. However, he wants to learn how to use his new mobile. Thus, he makes always the most that he can to memorize the steps that he needs to complete the most common tasks. Specifically, he is learning how to chat in his mobile device with his friends and how to surf on the Internet.

After creating the Personas, some scenarios were created to represent the tasks which could be executed in m-learning chats such as: creating a chat, sending a message or sending a file. These Personas and Scenarios were combined to detect the problems that people with disabilities face. Next, the scenario, which represents how to send chat messages, is described as well as how the personas Rosa and David could complete this scenario:

  • Actors: Rosa and David
  • Objective: Send chat messages
  • Settings: Rosa and David are chatting in different places. As Rosa is really good at new technologies, she is able to write really fast. However, David does not write quickly because of his learning disability.
  • Task description: Rosa and David are chatting with their mobile device. Rosa sends a message to David. "Do you know how to solve the exercise number six?". David starts to reply it. Rosa sends another message. "I have talked with Tim about it and he does not it know neither". David continues replying to the first message. Rosa replies the sentences really fast, but David is not able to answer quickly. As a result, David is not able to follow the rhythm of the conversation and feels really uncomfortable because of this. Rosa is sending messages even if David has not answered any of them previously and David receives more than one sentence at the same time. David feels uncomfortable and leaves the chat.
  • Problem: Unable to follow the conversation.

Through the combination of the Personas and Scenarios methods, some of the troubles that people with disabilities experience were discovered. However, it was necessary to contrast it with real users and get other barriers that they face and were not discovered with the Personas and Scenarios methods. Then, guided interviews were conducted to obtain additional challenges. In addition, these interviews were useful to validate and improve the list of questions which later would be spread out through the internet as a questionnaire. Next, some of the questions which were asked in the interviews are detailed:

  • o In the chats that you have used previously, are you able to comprehend all the steps that you need to complete each task?
  • Do you comprehend all the icons or buttons showed in the chat interface?
  • Is there something that you consider annoying?
  • Do you consider that every element (Ex: images or buttons) of the chat has the perfect size?
  • When you try to look for a contact in your list of contacts, do you have troubles to distinguish the users or the state of every user?
  • When you are chatting with someone, are you able to answer every message when you want?
  • Does it happen in one-to-one or one-to-many conversations?

Finally, basing on the discovered difficulties through the interviews and personas methods, a questionnaire was created to know the user barriers through a huge number of people. The questionnaire was spread out through the internet in blogs, forums and email groups to obtain the challenges that people with disabilities face.


After conducting the study, it was detected that people with disabilities have troubles when they want to use chats. Some of the difficulties are caused because the assistive technologies that people use are not compatible with the software. Furthermore, people could not read the text because the color contrast is not enough or the text size is really small. Besides, some elements cannot be used through a keyboard. In addition, chats sometimes open a new window without advising users. These are some examples of challenges that people face. However, the complete list of the barriers that people face can be found in the articles of the Output section.


Twelve months (2013)


Rocío Calvo
Ana Iglesias
Lourdes Moreno

Applied Skills and Methods

Personal Interviews
Statistical Analyses


Conference: "Requirements elicitation to design an accessible chat as a synchronous tool in m-learning environments" and "Chats for all: A user survey to improve chats' interaction"

Journals: "Requirements elicitation for designing an accessible chat " and "User-Centered Requirement Engineering for Accessible Chats in m-Learning "