'

[Irl-dean] A Comparative Investigation of the Accessibility Levels of Irish Websites

vivienne trulock vivienne at ilikecake.net
Sun May 14 16:42:25 IST 2006


Hello :)

I am printing my dissertation on Tuesday, the topic of which is "A
Comparative Investigation of the Accessibility Levels of Irish
Websites". If anyone would like a copy please forward your name and
address before then, so I know how many to have printed. The abstract
is below.

Vivienne

Abstract

The importance of access to the world wide web cannot be
underestimated. This is particularly so for those individuals who are
disabled in such a way as to render access to traditional media
difficult to attain or to use effectively. Online accessibility has
recently become a focus of both EU and Irish legislation. A
communication from the EU Commission in September 2001, proposed an
initiative dedicated to achieving accessibility of both public and
private Web sites during the European Year of Disabled, 2003.

In 2002, Dr. Barry McMullin carried out the Web Accessibility
Reporting Project (WARP), a baseline study of the accessibility of
Irish websites (McMullin, 2002). This dissertation uses the same
sample of websites and assesses their accessibility and compliance
levels in 2005. In addition, the research addresses the limitations of
the WARP study by examining the 'manual checks'. Verification by
disabled users is also a priority. The research includes building an
AAA accessible dynamic website whereby disabled users can comment on
and rate the websites which claim to be accessible. The results will
be made available as an online resource. The findings of the research
are summarised below.

Accessibility levels have increased among the 152 sites tested in 2002
during the WARP study. This is clearly indicated by the automatic
testing compliance results, attained using WebXact online, which have
risen from the 2002 levels of 6.3%, 0% and 0% respectively for
Compliancy Levels A, AA and AAA to 36.2%, 8.6% and 3.3% in 2005.

Further manual checks on the same sites indicate that the actual
compliance levels for 2005 are 1.3%, 0% and 0% for A, AA and AAA
Compliance Levels respectively. While over a third of web developers
know about accessibility (as indicated by the 55 sites which are
compliant with the automatic checks at level A), the automatic checks
have become the standard, and fully testing the sites against the WCAG
1.0 guidelines is generally not done.
Of the sites which claimed accessibility, either by displaying a W3C
or Bobby compliance logo, or in text on their accessibility statement
page, 60% claimed a higher level than their automatic testing results
indicated. When these sites were further manually checked it was found
that 100% of sites in the sample claimed a higher level of WCAG
compliance than was actually the case.

Most sites in the sample were not compliant with the WCAG 1.0 for the
entire set of disabilities. However, the concept of 'partial
accessibility' was examined by analysing which websites complied with
subsets of the guidelines particular to different disabilities.

Some disability types fared worse than others, in particular Blind,
Mobility Impaired and Cognitively Impaired each had full support from
at most 1% of the websites in the study. Other disabilities were
better supported, including Partially Sighted, Deaf and hearing
impaired, and Colour Blind. Support was available from 11%, 23% and
32% of the websites, respectively.




More information about the CEUD-ICT mailing list