Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Policy Dialogue Platform

Summary of study by Socitm showing the importance of usability in accessibility ...

* Testing for ‘technical accessibility’ to WCAG standards is an appropriate part of Better connected’s assessment of local authority websites, but usability testing for disabled people is also important
* As well as 37 sites achieving WCAG 1.0 level A this year, 86 other council sites estimated to be ‘basically technically accessible’.
* Survey of those achieving Level A conformance indicates benchmark of good practice in managing technical accessibility
* Reporting of Better connected results to be developed to encourage better understanding of council sites’ accessibility performance and scope for improvement

Socitm Insight has published a special report on website accessibility following evidence from its annual Better connected report that local authorities have continuing difficulties in delivering websites that work well for disabled people – even though they perform better than other sectors on this aspect of web development.

A world denied: a supplement for Better connected 2008 on website accessibility covers:

* what is involved in making websites accessible to disabled people
* different methods of measuring website accessibility
* results of accessibility testing for Better connected 2008
* details of common accessibility failures and what they mean to disabled users
* guidance for achieving accessibility from top local authority performers in this field.

Testing and analysis of local authority performance on website accessibility has been a feature of Better connected ever since the report was first published in 1998. However, growing awareness of the importance of the issue, as well as apparent differences of opinion among experts about measuring and improving accessibility performance, prompted Socitm Insight to explore further, and report on, these issues.

Socitm Insight invited the Public Sector Web Management Group (PSWMG), which has been highly critical of the testing and reporting of accessibility in Better connected, to participate in developing the content for the supplement. Details of comparative testing of a sample of council websites by PSWMG and RNIB (Socitm Insight’s accessibility testing contractor) are reported. Analysis of the comparative findings shows substantial agreement on what is inaccessible, although PSWMG places greater emphasis on usability issues.

In its analysis of what makes a website work for disabled people, the Better connected supplement follows the BSI PAS 78 accessibility guidance which makes the distinction between technical accessibility and usability. The Better connected supplement defines technical accessibility as the ability of any person, using any technology in any circumstance to access web content. Usability, in this context, is the ability of a disabled person to perform the same task, in the same time, at the same time, at the same cost and at the same convenience as a person who is not disabled. A site that offers good technical accessibility might not be usable by disabled people, if layout and other design issues do not take their needs into account."    (Continued via eGov monitor)    [Usability Resources]

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