Evaluation of the accessibility of higher education institutional web pages
Patricia Acosta-Vargas, Sergio Luján-Mora, Luis Salvador-Ullauri
Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies (Edulearn 2016), p. 7583-7590, Barcelona (Spain), July 4-6 2016. ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4. https://doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.0666
(EDULEARN'16b) Congreso internacional / International conference
This article describes a study to evaluate the accessibility to the contents of the websites of 18 universities all around the world, according with the international rankings included in the “Webometrics Rankings of World Universities”. The accessibility assessment has been carried out to prove the compliance of accessibility guidelines for web content established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the recommendation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0).The main goal of this study is to determine if universities with greater academic prestige have been concerned of providing accessible information about the university through their websites so that they can be accessed by everyone, even by people with disabilities. Accessibility indicates the ease which something can be visited or accessed with generally by all people, especially those who have a disability. Web accessibility refers to the ease with which people can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web. This article presents an analysis of accessibility to the web content established by the recommendation of the World Wide Web. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, is based on four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and sturdy. Each criterion has a level of compliance or conformity (A, AA and AAA) indicating its impact on accessibility. With the proposal of the Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM). This method consists of five steps: define the evaluation scope, explore the target website, select a representative sample, audit the selected sample and report the evaluation findings. For this study, the following tools were used: TAW (http://www.tawdis.net/) and Examinator (http://examinator.ws/). From the results, it was concluded that the majority of tested websites do not conform an acceptable level of compliance, the universities with greater academic prestige have not been concerned to provide accessible information about the university through its website so that it can be accessed by everyone, regardless if the user has any disability. None of the analyzed websites of prestigious universities worldwide accomplish accessibility guidelines, therefore, the pages are hardly accessible. By performing the evaluation of universities websites, we have identified that there are major barriers to a large number of users. The identified barriers may hinder or prevent access to the contents to people who may have a physical or sensorial limitation. The web pages should offer several alternatives, different presentations, to suit the needs of most users and they should be replicable under different circumstances. This study aims to prepare the institutions of higher education to improve the accessibility of their websites. This study has limitations and has taken risks in the planning stage, but can serve as lessons learned for future work.