Whole-to-Part versus Part-to-Whole: How Sighted and Blind Web Navigation Differs

Michele Williams

Designing with blind consumers in mind is often difficult for sighted team members to perceive and understand. Part of the disconnect is from differences in page exploration strategies: a sighted person takes in a page at a glance and homes in on what they want to explore (a “whole-to-part” approach), whereas someone blind reverses the process and pieces together bits of information to create the full picture (a “part-to-whole” approach). When stakeholders are not mindful of these differences, they often disregard best practices that benefit blind visitors. Using comparisons from pedestrian navigation to explain these strategies, this presentation seeks to create common ground between sighted and blind communities that will lead to digital spaces where everyone can confidently and independently navigate.