IT Accessibility Policies and Practices in Higher Education: Research Findings Terrill Thompson University of Washington email@example.com @terrillthompson http://terrillthompson.com
Research Questions • What is the current state of web and PDF accessibility at higher education institutions in the United States? • How many higher education institutions in the United States have policies related to web and/or IT accessibility? • How do institutions compare on their level of conversation related to web and technology accessibility? • Which independent variables are the best predictors of web and PDF accessibility?
The Population (n=3251) • 1204 Associate's Colleges • 623 Master's Colleges and Universities • 594 Baccalaureate Colleges • 518 Special Focus Institutions • 283 Doctorate-granting Universities • 29 Tribal Colleges • Includes only institutions located in the 50 U.S. states • Individual institutions with a shared parent institution and web template (e.g., ITT Technical Institute, Devry) were evaluated as one institution
Research Sample by Google Search • Top 10 HTML pages at each institution • Top 10 PDFs at each institution • A count of number of results searching for "web accessibility" and "technology accessibility" (Conversation) • A list of URLs searching for "web technology accessibility policy"
Auto-evaluated each web page (n=31,701) • % of <img> elements with alt attributes • % of <input> elements with "labels" • Page has HTML headings (Y/N) • Page has a lang attribute (Y/N) • Page has ARIA landmark roles (Y/N)
Auto-evaluated each PDF (n=28,395) • One measure: Is PDF tagged? (Y/N) • Searched for string "/Marked true" • A reasonably reliable method of identifying tagged PDF • 100% reliable with manual test of 100 PDFs(50 tagged & 50 untagged)
Accessibility Links on Home Pages • Automatically checked all links on institutional home pages for the word "Accessibility"
Manually Reviewed Policy Results • A team of reviewers generously flagged all Google results that might be considered a policy • Generally reviewed only top 10 search results at each institution, but were given latitude to follow obvious leads one level deep • A panel of three experts conducted a more thorough analysis of all policies that survived the cut.
Four Categories of "Policies" • Formal-standalone • Formal-incorporated • Standards or guidelines • General statement
Results for Research Question 1: What is the current state of web and PDF accessibility at higher education institutions in the United States?
Overall Web Accessibility • Headings – 77.9% (83.6% for Doctorate) • Alt text – 60.4% (66.1% for Doctorate) • Labels – 39.8% (44.2% for Doctorate) • Lang – 37.3% (45.6% for Doctorate) • ARIA – 3.3% (4.2% for Doctorate) • Overall (Web) – 43.7% (48.8% for Doctorate) • Tagged PDF – 33.8% (20.7% for Doctorate)
A Few More Observations • California State University, State of Texas, and State of Illinois institutions significantly higher than average overall • Slight but significant difference between highest-scoring region (Pacific) and lowest (Southeast and Southwest) • In all of the above groups, very high within-group variance
On PDF Accessibility • Highest scores were Tribal Colleges (40.7%) • Second highest were Associates (39.7%) • Explanation? • Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows • Automatically creates tagged PDF • Larger institutions are creating more complex PDFs using a wider variety of tools • A manual inspection of a few revealed that some really are accessible, but many are not
Results for Research Question 2: How many higher education institutions in the United States have policies related to web and/or IT accessibility?
Policies Found • 8.4% of institutions (274 policies) • 26.1% of Doctorate (74 policies) • 14.8% of Masters (92 policies) • 6.3% of Associates (76 policies) • 3.5% of Baccalaureate (21 policies) • 2.1% of Special Focus (11 policies) • 0 Tribal Colleges
Types of Policies • Doctorate: • 47.3% are formal-standalone (35 policies) • 24.3% are formal-incorporated (18 policies) • 14.9% are general statement • 13.5% are guidelines and standards • Masters: • Equal numbers of standalone and incorporated (39.1%, 36 policies) • General statements were the most common type of policy among other types of institutions
Results for Research Question 3: How do institutions compare on their amount of conversation related to web and technology accessibility??
A Huge Range of "Conversation" • Approx. 1000 institutions have 0 results for "web accessibility" or "technology accessibility" • Approx. 100 institutions have over 1000 results • Six institutions have more than 10,000 results • Five of these have "accessibility" links on their home pages (67.4% of these = "Accessibility") • The one that doesn't: Penn State • 17 of the top 50 institutions do not have a home page link
Results for Research Question 4: Which independent variables are the best predictors of web and PDF accessibility?
Institutions with a policy are: • Significantly higher on alt text • Significantly higher on labeled input fields • Not significantly different on other web accessibility measures (headings, lang, ARIA) • Significantly less likely to have tagged PDF
Effects of type of policy • Effect size are small, with high variance with groups. However… • Formal standalone policies are related to greater accessibility • Formal standalone policies are highly related to higher levels of conversation. This effect is especially strong when there is no Accessibility link on the home page.
Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis • Great overall web accessibility scores are associated with: • More web accessibility conversation • Having an accessibility policy of any type • Being a Masters or Doctorate Institution • Being located in California • Not being located in the Southeast or Southwest • Having an accessibility link on the home page • Together, all of these predictors only accounted for 3.3% of total variance. Which means…
The best predictors of web accessibility were not measured in this study.