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Beyond Specifications: Towards a Practical Methodology for Evaluating Web Accessibility

Panayiotis Koutsabasis, Evangelos Vlachogiannis, and Jenny S. Darzentas

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 5, Issue 4, August 2010, pp. 157 - 171

Abstract

The current set of tools and specifications for ensuring web accessibility require expert knowledge and often have a highly technical orientation, with the consequence that it is not very clear how, or even when, to make use of them. In an attempt to tackle this problem, this paper reviews the types of tools and specifications available and proposes a simple and practical methodology for web accessibility evaluation that demonstrates how these tools and specifications could be used. The proposed methodology proposes methods and processes for reaching and maintaining web accessibility, and consists of the following phases: (a) identification of user requirements and setting up of accessibility goals, (b) web accessibility evaluation and redesign process, and (c) establishment and follow-up of accessibility policy. Further, in order to illustrate step (b), an example of web accessibility evaluation is described, where the domain is contemporary scientific publishing web sites. The work presented in this paper reports on issues that need to be considered by human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers, interaction design practitioners, and usability professionals for inclusive web design and are complementary to web usability engineering.

Practitioner’s Take Away

The following are the key points of this paper:

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Beyond Specifications: Towards a Practical Methodology for Evaluating Web Accessibility