A Heuristic Method to Evaluate Web Accessibility for Users with Low Vision
Checking the accessibility of a website is a significant challenge for accessibility experts. Users who suffer from age-related changes, such as low vision, poor hearing, and diminishing motor skills, among others, have problems accessing the services offered by the web. Currently, there are qualitative and quantitative methods to check if a website is accessible. Most methods apply automatic tools because they are low cost, but they do not present an ideal solution. Instead, heuristic methods require manual support that will help the expert to assess accessibility by establishing severity ranges. This research used a modification of the Barrier Walkthrough method proposed by Giorgio Brajnik considering the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1. The modification consisted of including persistence to determine the severity of an accessibility barrier. This method enabled the measurement of the accessibility of websites to test a new heuristic process and to obtain sample data for analysis. The method was applied to 40 websites, including those of 30 universities in Latin America, according to the Webometrics ranking, and 10 websites among the most visited, according to Alexa ranking. With this heuristic method, the evaluators concluded that although a website is in a high-ranking position, this does not imply that it is accessible and inclusive. However, the manual method takes too long, and it is therefore too costly to solve accessibility problems. This research can serve as a starting point for future studies related to web accessibility heuristics.