A Review of Municipal Web sites for Accessibility:
a Computer-aided Evaluation Approach
Costin PRIBEANU1, Paul FOGARASSY-NESZLY2
1 I C I Bucharest
(National Institute for R & D in Informatics)
8-10 Averescu Blvd.
011455 Bucharest 1, Romania
2 BAUM Engineering,
8, Str. Traian Moşoiu, Arad 310175, Romania,
Abstract: Although the access to information for disabled people is a priority at the European level, the web accessibility of public web sites is still a problem. The purpose of this paper is to present a preliminary review of municipal web sites in Romania. We took a computer-aided evaluation approach which is based on semi-automatic accessibility evaluation tool. The analysis of results reveals a relatively low web accessibility of municipal web sites and highlights some interesting aspects. Firstly, the web accessibility score computed by counting the accessibility errors is higher on the homepage than on other pages. Secondly, while some developers ignore many accessibility guidelines, there are several websites where some accessibility guidelines are not well understood.
Keywords: Accessibility, usability, heuristic evaluation, municipal web sites.
CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Costin PRIBEANU, Paul FOGARASSY-NESZLY, A Review of Municipal Web sites for Accessibility: a Computer-aided Evaluation Approach, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 20 (3), pp. 265-272, 2011.
The establishment of the information society in Romania requires granting an equal access to the information technologies for all citizens. Public web sites should address a wider segment of users with specific characteristics and increasing demands (Ivan et al, 2009). According to the ISO 25010 standard, the software product quality model has 8 quality characteristics. Accessibility is a sub characteristic of usability that includes disabilities related to age. It could be measured either as the extent to which a product could be used by people with disabilities or by the presence of product attributes supporting accessibility.
Most public web sites have barriers that affect the access to information for people with disabilities. In 1997 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launched the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in order to improve the web accessibility for people with disabilities. Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible to users with disabilities. It is expected that by following these recommendations the web content will also be made more usable.
In 1999, W3C published the first version of accessibility guidelines (WCAG 1.0). The second version was published in 2008 (WCAG 2.0) and this is the reference recommended for use in accessibility policies. There are four key principles that underlie WCAG 2.0: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Three levels of conformance testing were defined: A (lowest), AA and AAA (highest).
On 12 June 2006, ministers of 34 member states signed the Riga Ministerial Declaration and decided that all public web sites are accessible by 2010. Although the access to information for people with disabilities was stated as a priority at European level, the web accessibility of public web sites is still a problem. According to a recent survey only 5.3% of public web sites comply with the minimum accessibility requirements (MeAC, 2007).
This paper aims to present a preliminary review of municipal web sites in Romania. A sample of 30 municipality web sites was evaluated for accessibility with a semi-automatic accessibility evaluation tool. The evaluation results were then analyzed with respect to WCAG 2 A requirements.
The rest of this paper is organized as follows. In the next section we present existing approaches in web accessibility research and web accessibility situation and needs in Romania. The evaluation results are presented and analyzed in section 3. The paper ends with conclusion and future work in section 4.
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