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Department of Computer Science

Web Users with Cognitive Disabilities: Interaction Differences and Coping Strategies

Primary supervisor

Additional supervisors

  • Markel Vigo

Additional information

Contact admissions office

Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Competition Funded Project (Students Worldwide)

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide. Funding may only be available to a limited set of nationalities and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Project description

The needs of web users with cognitive disabilities, in particular, Autism, is not well researched. To meet the needs of users with cognitive disabilities, designers' only option is to rely on a set of design guidelines that are not typically empirically evaluated. However, to create efficient and effective interfaces for people with cognitive disabilities, one needs to understand how they access the web, what the problems are, and how they cope with such issues. In our previous work, to investigate the difficulties and challenges experienced by web users with high-functioning Autism, we conducted several eye-tracking studies. These studies empirically show that web users with high-functioning Autism do process pages differently. In this PhD project, we would like to conduct different observation studies to better understand such differences in different interaction styles, not just with eye-tracking. This project will investigate such differences by collecting a variety of longitudinal interaction datasets that can be analyzed for patterns of use, using systems such as WevQuery. Therefore, this PhD project will investigate the following research questions:

RQ1. What kind of interaction styles can be observed in addition to visual strategies?
RQ2. Will a data-driven analysis methodology enable RQ1?
RQ3. What are the interaction patterns and coping strategies of web users with cognitive disabilities?

In order to address these research questions, the PhD candidate will have to be willing to use a multidisciplinary approach that involves:

- Observational studies and unobtrusive measures.
- Data science and algorithms.
- Statistical analysis.

For these PhD positions, split-side PhD with Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus (METU NCC) option is also available. Full PhD Teaching Assistant Scholarship is also available at METU NCC. For further details and for the process of application, please contact Yeliz Yesilada (

Person specification

For information


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will have good time management.
  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?