Understanding Web Accessibility and Its Drivers – Summary and Thoughts

Summary:

The purpose of this paper was to understand how different professionals understand web accessibility and usability including their target audience (disabled vs non-disabled), how they should be evaluated and their appropriate context.

With this research, they intended to “guide and help in better teaching web accessibility by solidifying ideas and concepts”, “better communicate the concepts to people who are not in the field”, “advance web accessibility as a research field by providing shared understanding, grammar and lexicons”, and “improve penetration of web accessibility into commercial and industrial settings”.

In order to gather their data, they implemented a survey to about 379 people to find out about their background, how they view accessibility and usability, and asked them to rate some accessibility statements according to their level of importance. They sent out this survey to find out if age, profession, industry, country of origin, education, experience, specialization and interest affect how people view accessibility.

These were their results:

  • Most people agreed on the following definition: “Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web, and they can contribute to the web”.
  • Designing better products and being inclusive are the major reasons why people embrace accessibility.
  • People embrace accessibility as a result of social responsibility over legal issues
  • Simple, clear, achievable and realistic definitions are preferred.
  • Accessibility should not be an afterthought.
  • Definitions disseminated by large institutions or regulatory bodies are preferred.

Thoughts

Sincerely, I didn’t think that how people understand accessibility was such an issue (I’m happy this paper exposed that). I view accessibility just like the way I see electronic records – it’s a place that everyone has to migrate to in order to remain competitive and make their jobs easier. Making websites accessible is even more important, because it opens up businesses to a much larger population of people including disabled people, the elderly etc. I wish the paper had talked more about how the professionals thought websites should be evaluated – giving people something concrete on some of the best ways to make their websites accessible.

 

 

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