Considering Diversity and Ensuring Accessibility in Experience-based research
Julia Himmelsbach, Katrien de Moor, and Andreas Sackl
Motivation and objectives
During the last years, QoE developed from a primarily technology-focused perspective towards a holistic and more human-centered paradigm, acknowledging not only that context matters but also that human characteristics (with varying stability and modifiability) bear an important impact on QoE and therefore need to be better understood. In parallel to this shift in paradigm, there has also been a broadening of the research scope towards more complex topics such as immersive media experiences and Quality of Life. To meet the complexity of the associated quality perceptions and subjective user experiences, as well as to move towards a better understanding of how and when differences between users matter, research has started to adopt comprehensive perspectives seeking to better understand and actively include differences between users (and corresponding requirements) into technology and technology experience-design. User diversity not only encompasses individual characteristics of users, such as personality traits or aesthetic preferences, but must be considered as embedded in a social and structural context. Thus, diversity dimensions include aspects, such as culture, age, and (dis)abilities, which are related to unequal power structures and discrimination, structure everyday life including unequal access to and distribution of resources, and shape our identities.
User diversity can be used as a multi-dimensional tool to better understand expectations, perceptions, and experiences of technology. However, while diversity and accessibility aspects already are an essential part of the scientific discussion in other experience-related communities (e.g. CHI), they are to date still underadressed in QoE research. Hence, QoE research has to consider facets of developing explanatory models and frameworks to actually explain perceptual differences and methodological approaches supporting this.
Diversity dimensions and unequal power structures also shape who (e.g., which types of users) is usually addressed by QoE research and who typically participates in QoE studies. As a consequence, especially marginalized groups, such as people with different (dis)abilities, have not been a focus of the field for a long time. However, we are currently observing that the topic of accessibility is receiving more and more attention in user and experience related research. Therefore, knowledge accumulated by the QoE community could be used to reduce barriers to a good experience of interactive media systems and to achieve higher levels of accessibility.