Thursday, August 02, 2007

Research paper about accessibility of instructional web sites

There is a recent research paper dealing with web accessibility I want to inform you about today.

The paper is titled, simply enough,
Accessibility of Instructional Web Sites in Higher Education.
This is the academic paper written about a project undertaken at the University of Texas at Austin, a university which has been noted for their accessible and Section 508 compliant web sites.

I think the title says a lot, but perhaps it should have read “Inaccessibility” instead of “Accessibility.” According to the report:

“The student team evaluated 99 Web sites, of which 12 (12.1 percent) met all of the Section 508 standards and thus were considered accessible. The remaining 87 sites (87.88 percent) had documented areas of noncompliance with between one and 11 of the 16 standards and thus failed to comply with Section 508.”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not knocking the report, but quite the contrary. While the results show a poor reflection of accessible instructional sites, it does identify the deficiencies. Like the old saying goes, “How can you fix something, if you don’t know what’s broke?”

The report is an honest effort to evaluate accessibility at a flagship university. The information gained is useful as it gives valid and reliable feedback to the UT departments who participated in the study. From these results, they can redesign as indicated.

Actually, I believe the project UT took on is a good one for other universities to emulate. Perhaps this would make a good student or team research project on your campus. Maybe all it takes is somebody planting the seed for this project with the right professor or student group. It would be win-win. The results will give good feedback to the school about the accessibility of their web offerings and also give legitimate research experience to the students.

By the way, that paper is posted on-line by


which, according to their home page, is “a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology,” and whose “Membership is open to institutions of higher education, corporations serving the higher education information technology market, and other related associations.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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