New MARATONE project to investigate Web accessibility for people with mental disorders revealed
Los Angeles, 5th August, 2015
Plan for a new MARATONE project entitled BETTER (weB accEssibiliTy for people wiTh mEntal disoRders) was revealed at the recently concluded 17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Los Angeles, California, USA.
BETTER is a collaborative effort involving relevant stakeholders – people with mental disorders, practicing professionals in the field, regulators, policymakers and those in academia – to determine whether current Web accessibility facilitation measures must be adapted for people with mental disorders and if so, in what way(s). It focuses on depression and anxiety because they are the most common mental disorders account for the leading causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) due to mental and substance use disorders worldwide according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.
Web accessibility ensures that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web. Much research attention has been placed on physical and sensory disabilities with great results. The interaction between neurocognitive deficits, associated with many conditions including mental disorders, and the Web environment has also been widely investigated. However, it has been found that little focus has been placed on people with mental disorders and the interaction between associated socio-cognitive dysfunction and the Web environment. This is why the BETTER project has been initiated.
BETTER has three-phases: (1) identification of Web accessibility barriers using two data sources: a systematic review of pertinent literature and focus group interviews with people with depression and anxiety; (2) validation of current Web accessibility facilitation measures for this population using experimental user-testing; (3) provision of expertise-based recommendations for the improvement of Web accessibility facilitation measures using a delphi method.
If adopted, the project’s recommendations are expected to herald improvements in the Web browsing experiences of people with depression and anxiety, and Web-based treatments. It is believed that this is not only of benefit to people with depression and anxiety or even people with mental disorders but it is also of benefit to everyone else who uses the Web as a tool for progress in our increasingly connected societies.
BETTER is primarily supervised by Dr. Alarcos Cieza, currently Disability and Rehabilitation (DAR) Team lead at the World Health Organization (WHO) (previously Professor of Medical psychology at the University of Southampton) and co-supervised by senior researcher Dr Carla Sabariego. The project also involves collaborations with Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southampton, David Baldwin, and Activity Lead at the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office, Shadi Abou-Shadi.
The team’s recently published paper can be accessed from Springer - http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-21006-3_3#.
The BETTER project is funded through the MARATONE, the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under REA grant agreement n° 316795 and is coordinated at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom (www.maratoneproject.eu).