miércoles, 28 de agosto de 2013

Mejorando la accesibilidad web: la percepción de los webmasters

Interesante el artículo Improving web accessibility: a study of webmaster perceptions, publicado en el año 2004.

¿Nueve años después, la situación sigue igual? El resumen del artículo es:
Large percentages of web sites continue to be inaccessible to people with disabilities. Since tools and guidelines are available to help designers and webmasters in making their web sites accessible, it is unclear why so many sites continue to be inaccessible. In this paper, we present the “Web Accessibility Integration Model,” which highlights the multiple points within web development where accessibility can be incorporated or forgotten. It is uncertain why webmasters do not use the various tools and guidelines that currently are available for making web sites accessible. A survey was created, and data was collected from 175 webmasters, indicating their knowledge on the topic of web accessibility and the reasons for their actions related to web accessibility. Findings and future directions for research are discussed.
Y la introducción:
The world wide web provides a wealth of information, and the user population of the web is diverse, including users of all ages, educational levels, and levels of computing experience (Shneiderman, 2000). Many users of the web have various types of disabilities. These disabilities include sensory (e.g. hearing and vision), motor (e.g. limited use of hands) and cognitive (e.g. learning disabilities) impairments. These users with disabilities use various forms of assistive technology to allow them to browse web sites. Assistive technologies include hardware and software such as screen readers, voice recognition, alternative pointing devices, alternate keyboards, and refreshable Braille displays (Paciello, 2000). 
Users with disabilities can only utilize a web site if it is designed to be compatible with the various assistive technologies. A web site that is sufficiently flexible to be used by all of these assistive technologies is called an accessible web site (Slatin & Rush, 2003). An accessible web site is very similar to an accessible building. An accessible building offers curb cuts, ramps, and elevators to allow a person with disabilities to enter and navigate through the building with ease. An accessible web site offers similar functionality. 
Accessibility is not just a high-level theoretical goal. Currently, there are guidelines that web developers can follow so that their web sites can be accessible. For instance, the Web Accessibility Initiative provides guidelines, called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to help developers make their web sites accessible (http://www.w3.org/wai). The United States Government offers similar guidelines to web developers, which are included in the Section 508 initiative (http://www.section508.gov). A copy of the Section 508 guidelines is included in Appendix A. In addition, automated software tools are available to help find accessibility flaws in web sites before the sites are publicly posted. These software tools include Bobby, RAMP, InFocus, and A-Prompt (Ivory, Mankoff, & Le, 2003). In addition, new versions of web development tools (such as DreamWeaver and FrontPage) include tools that assist developers with accessibility-related issues. Given that the guidelines and tools are there, it seems hopeful that most web sites would be accessible. In fact, many governments make web accessibility a requirement for government information on the web. The United States, England, Canada, Portugal, and Australia require some types of government information to be accessible (Slatin & Rush, 2003). 
Unfortunately, most web sites are not currently accessible. Recent studies point out that large percentages (70–98%, depending on the category of site) of web sites are not accessible. For instance, in recent studies, private and non-profit web sites (Lazar, Beere, Greenidge, & Nagappa, 2003), for-profit commerce web sites (Sullivan & Matson, 2000), US state web sites (Ceaparu & Shneiderman, 2002), and even US Federal web sites (Stowers, 2002) were found to have major accessibility problems. In addition, over time, web sites are getting more inaccessible (Lazar & Greenidge, in preparation), as accessibility violations have been added to sites. 
Web sites need to be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Given all of the resources available for making web sites accessible, it is unclear why they remain so inaccessible. Our goal is to learn more about why sites are not accessible. Since the person that has the greatest influence on currently-existing web sites is the webmaster, the researchers decided to start the investigation with webmasters. The researchers created a survey to learn more about webmasters and their perceptions and knowledge on the topic of web accessibility. The results of that survey are discussed in this paper. In addition, we have created a model, called the Web Accessibility Integration Model, which describes the various ways that accessibility flaws enter a web site. Our goal with this research is to increase the knowledge about why web sites are not accessible, so that we can make the web a more accessible place.

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