Towards Inclusive Source Code Readability Based on the Preferences of Programmers with Visual Impairments

Code readability is crucial for program comprehension, maintenance, and collaboration. However, many of the standards for writing readable code are derived from sighted developers' readability needs. We conducted a qualitative study with 16 blind and visually impaired (BVI) developers to better understand their readability preferences for common code formatting rules such as identifier naming conventions, line length, and use of indentation. Our findings revealed how BVI developers' preferences contrast with those of sighted developers and how we can expand the existing rules to improve code readability on screen readers. Based on the findings, we contribute an inclusive understanding of code readability and derive implications for programming languages, development environments, and style guides. Our work helps broaden the meaning of readable code in software engineering and accessibility research.