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Australian university website accessibility revisited

Australian university website accessibility revisited

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Australian university website accessibility revisited

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  1. WANAU Forums 2007 - Brisbane Australian university website accessibility revisited Dey AlexanderScott Rippon

  2. Introduction • University website accessibility benchmarked in 2003 • Priority 1 checkpoints, WCAG 1.0 (Level-A) • Looked at 4 key pages from 45 university websites • 98 per cent of sites failed • Have things improved in 4 years?

  3. What has changed since 2003? • Legislation, policy and activities in university sector • WANAU (July 2004) and forums in 2005 • AVCC guidelines on information access for students with print disabilities (Nov 2004) • Disability standards for education (August 2005) • AVCC guidelines on students with disabilities (May 2006) • Activities in web design community • Standards-based design now popularised • New standards for web content accessibility (WCAG 2.0) forthcoming

  4. Current study • All sites evaluated between early January and mid March 2007 • Some sites/pages redesigned/update • Slightly different methodology • Results are still comparable between the two studies

  5. Methodology: scope • P1 checkpoints in WCAG 1.0 were the benchmark • Did not evaluate checkpoint 14.1 (same as last time) • 41 universities (45 last time), 4 pages from each site • Home page • Main prospective students page • Orientation page (or alternative) • Accommodation page (or alternative)

  6. Methodology: style and tools • Manual and automated testing • No user testing (same as last time) • Key tools (slightly different to last time) • HERA • Web accessibility toolbar from Vision Australia • The WAVE 3.5 • Two evaluators (one last time)

  7. Methodology: process used • Visual inspection in Internet Explorer version 6 • Captured screen image • Ran HERA to generate a report • Worked through checkpoints individually, using other tools and updating report. Checks included: • Text alternatives for non-text elements • Tested page with CSS off • Tested page with scripting off • Captured screens for text only view, CSS-off view, WAVE report

  8. Methodology: rating method • Not applicable: element not on page • Passed: design or use of element met requirements • Failed: design or use of element failed requirements • Partial: minor problem • Partial rating not used in 2003 – pages were passed • Wanted to highlight practices that could be improved • No page/site failed on a partial rating only

  9. Findings • Overall, things have declined • 100% sites failed (98% in 2003) • 93% pages failed (85% in 2003) • Best result: University of the Sunshine Coast • 1 pass, 1 fail, 2 partial

  10. Comparison of findings

  11. Problems and trends • 1.1: Text alternatives were the biggest problem (and up 0.7 per cent on 2003) • Trends in web design have had an impact • 6.1: CSS problems up 16.4 per cent • 6.3: Script problems up 10.4 per cent • 12.1: Frame problems down 13.2 per cent

  12. Checkpoint 1.1

  13. Checkpoint 1.1 and images • Content images • A: the text alternative is not equivalent to the content provided by the image • B: the text alternative includes unnecessary text • C: the ALT attribute has been left blank • D: the ALT attribute is missing from the IMG element • E: no text alternative is provided for a background image • E2 (only found in 2007): the text alternative for the background image is not equivalent.

  14. Checkpoint 1.1 and images • Decorative and layout images • F: there is an unnecessary text alternative • G: the ALT attribute is missing from the IMG element.

  15. Images and text alt problems • A: +21.7 • B: -4.0 • C: -0.6 • D: -22.7 • E: +7.9 • E2: +0.6 • F: +20.6 • G: -29.9

  16. Interesting issues • Increased use of CMSs and better authoring tools has reduced the problems with missing ALT attributes (D & G). • But increase in problems A and F show lack of understanding or care in writing text alternatives • Small decrease in problem type B. Last time due to use of sliced images and repeated text alternatives for each slice. Now layout is more commonly handled by stylesheets and less tables/sliced images

  17. A: ALTs not equivalent • Curtin University, accommodation page: four images that act as links to other pages ("On campus", "Off campus", "Short term" and "Conference") have the text alternative "Navigation button" • James Cook University, prospective students page: an image with the text "I have a great focus on the issues in law that affect people living in regional areas, particularly affecting Indigenous people in those areas. Naomi de Costa, Solicitor, Williams Graham Carman Solicitors, Bachelor of Laws (Hons) 2004", has the text alternative "picture of Naomi de Costa" • Murdoch University, home page: an image with the text "Member of Innovative Research Universities Australia" has the text alternative "IRUA" • University of New England, home page: an image with the text "The UNE experience stays with you for life" has the text alternative "banner" • RMIT University, home page: an image with the text "Go V RMIT, Vocations @ RMIT, Way to go VE&T" has the text alternative "Go V at RMIT" • University of Technology Sydney, home page: an image with the text "Prospective students" has the text alternative "International students", another with the text "Working at UTS" has the text alternative "Studying at UTS"

  18. B: unnecessary text ALTs • University of Adelaide, home page: a sliced banner image repeats the ALT attribute on each slice • Griffith University, prospective students page: two images that act as links have a text alternative that starts with the word "image", e.g. "image: Scholarships", "image: Apply now" • James Cook University, prospective students page: a series of images that act as links all have a text alternative that end with the word "button", e.g. "Scholarships button", "Publications button" • Charles Sturt University, orientation page: the logo image has the text alternative "Charles Sturt University Crest" - the last word is not necessary • Deakin University, orientation page: images used to identify PDF documents to users have the text alternative "PDF logo" - the last word is not necessary

  19. C: empty ALTs • Australian National University, home page: two images that act as links to other pages ("ANU admission test" and "Entry guaranteed for domestic students with UAE more than or equal to 75" ) have blank ALT attributes • La Trobe University, home page: an image with the text "Celebrating 40 years, 1967 - 2007" has a blank ALT attribute • Victoria University, home page: an image with the text "We're ready, are you? VU students are job ready. More..." has a blank ALT attribute • University of New South Wales, prospective students page: a banner image with the text "University of New South Wales - Sydney - Australia" has a blank ALT attribute

  20. D: missing ALTs • University of Melbourne, prospective students page: an image map with the text "Step by step guide to VTAC offers" and two hotspots, has no ALT attribute. • Australian Catholic University, prospective students page: an image with the text "Information Days" and another with the text "Discussion Forum" have no ALT attributes • Australian Defence Force Academy, orientation page: an image with the text "Latest student news" has no ALT attribute

  21. E: background img, no ALT • Australian National University, home page: a series of dynamically-generated background images provide information about various aspects or activities of the university, e.g. the School of Music concert program, use of technology in the Centre for New Media Arts, types of sculpture on campus. No text alternatives are provided • University of Canberra, home page: a background image contains the University's name and logo and a tagline "New intelligence". No text alternative is provided

  22. Background img, ALT not equivalent • Australian Catholic University, accommodation page: the university logo is a background image that includes the name of the university and its campus locations. A heading level 1 element provides the name of the site as a text alternative for the background image, but the campus information is not included

  23. F: decorative/layout, unnecessary ALT • Monash University, prospective students page: two decorative images (one in the page header, one in the sidebar) have unnecessary text alternatives. The text alternative for the header image sometimes repeats an adjacent link. The sidebar image is a photo of students in a lecture theatre and has the text alternative "Course and careers seminars", repeating the text from an adjacent link • RMIT University, home page: several decorative images have text alternatives that repeat the adjacent link text • University of the Sunshine Coast, orientation page: a decorative image has the text alternative "Headstart students on library verandah" • University of Western Sydney, accommodation page: decorative images have unnecessary text alternatives such as "Campus images" and "Woman reading a book "

  24. G: decorative/layout, missing ALT • Charles Sturt University, orientation page: two decorative images have no ALT attributes • University of South Australia, accommodation page: a photographic image has no ALT attribute • University of Tasmania, prospective students page: four decorative images have no ALT attribute

  25. Other checkpoint 1.1 issues • PDF documents – up 9.9 per cent "The Commission's view is that organisations who distribute content only in PDF format, and who do not also make this content available in another format such as RTF, HTML, or plain text, are liable for complaints under the DDA" (2002).

  26. Other checkpoint 1.1 issues • Scripts and <NOSCRIPT> • We found 12 pages where there was no text alternative for a script that was used to include content on a page, up 4 per cent on 2003.

  27. Other checkpoint 1.1 issues • Most problems with multimedia were with the use of Flash with no text alternative provided. • Up 3.9 per cent

  28. Checkpoint 6.1 - Stylesheets • Problems up 16.4 per cent • Main problem was legibility when CSS turned off; link colour dark blue on dark (blue or black) HTML-coloured background • 2 problems with read order

  29. Checkpoint 6.3 - Scripts • Problems up 10.4 per cent • Quicklinks menus, navigation menus didn’t work • Search disappeared or didn’t work • 15 partial ratings: text resizing, printing

  30. Conclusions (1) • Trend towards standards-based web design may have had some positive effects • Fewer problems with frames and table-based layouts • CSS problems are up, due to poor implementation

  31. Conclusions (2) • Increased use of scripting has led to more accessibility problems • These may increase with the trend towards scripting techniques known as AJAX (or Asychronous JavaScript with XML)

  32. Conclusions (3) • Main problems identified in this and the 2003 study have little to do with changing trends in web design. • Still a lack of understanding of the role of text alternatives for non-text elements • Fixing the problem is relatively easy • Education not technical solution