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Ameer Armaly , Computer Science and Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana United States 46656 (e-mail:
Paige Rodeghero , Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana United States 46628 (e-mail:
Collin McMillan , Computer Science, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Virginia United States 46545 (e-mail:
Programmers who are blind use a screen reader to speak source code one word at a time, as though the code were text. This process of reading is in stark contrast to sighted programmers, who skim source code rapidly with their eyes. At present, it is not known whether the difference in these processes has effects on the program comprehension gained from reading code. These effects are important because they could reduce both the usefulness of accessibility tools and the generalizability of software engineering studies to persons with low vision. In this paper, we present an empirical study comparing the program comprehension of blind and sighted programmers. We found that both blind and sighted programmers prioritize reading method signatures over other areas of code. Both groups obtained an equal and high degree of comprehension, despite the different reading processes.
Program comprehension, accessibility technology, blindness

A. Armaly, P. Rodeghero and C. McMillan, "Blindness and Program Comprehension," in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.
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