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Evaluating Web Accessibility for Blind Individuals: The Challenges Facing Online Education

Murphy, Pat and Maycock, Keith (2014) Evaluating Web Accessibility for Blind Individuals: The Challenges Facing Online Education. In: 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA), 29-30 May 2014, University College Dublin, Dublin.

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As the world's population becomes further dependent on the web for services and information, a large number of people with disabilities are disadvantaged. What was once considered a luxury has now become a means for total interaction with society. A great deal of tasks now performed on a daily basis by people require some access to a web environment. Consider the Olympic games held in London in 2012. Tickets for the games were only available online. The education sector needs to address this area of concern. It is estimated by the world health organisation (WHO) that approximately 1 billion people are disabled, suggesting that they are no longer a niche sector of the population. Of these, 39 million are totally blind while a further 246 million have some sort of visual impairment. Web accessibility can be defined as the practice of making a web site accessible to all types of users. There have been a number of attempts to address this, from international guidelines and standards to local and national legislation and laws enacted in various countries throughout the world. However, a lot of these standards and guidelines are focused on insuring that government sites conform. There is very little to enforce accessibility on web sites that are not government related. This paper presents a novel approach to identification and automatic adjustment of Web Accessibility issues. The Web Assessment Accessibility Model (WAAM), was designed to address accessibility issues in relation to blind users. Data was collected on evaluated pages, detailing what was found, what was changed and what would need direct human intervention. The measure for success was the amount of items changed, versus those identified as potential problems. Three sets of data were analysed. Irish educational provider sites and a random set of 100 sites from Ireland and Spain were selected by a Google search. Spain was identified as a benchmark group as it is one of the few countries that did not have to migrate a lot of legacy systems to web environments. As a result, it was thought, that their levels of accessibility should have been better than most. In each of these data sets, only the home page of each site was evaluated.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General) > Information Technology > Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions: School of Computing > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2014 12:11
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2014 12:11

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