The Accessibility of New York State Government Web Sites Using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2.0
Palmo, Kristen M.
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This study evaluated a random selection of NYS government web pages for WCAG 2.0 accessibility. The study also compared the WCAG 2.0 results to WCAG 1.0 results, as an indication of whether the newer guidelines were more comprehensive. The researcher used the AChecker automated tool to determine known accessibility problems and the Failure Rate (FR) metric to establish the degree each web page was inaccessible. Twenty home pages were initially selected and ranked by 2.0 A inaccessibility. Then, four illustrative sites were chosen for both 2.0 A and 1.0 AA home and secondary page analysis. The results indicated that NYS government agencies have a wide range of 2.0 accessibility problems, varying from 123 – 0 problems and 43.93% - 0.00% FR on home pages; and 185 – 4 problems and 18.97 – 0.74% FR on home and secondary pages. Overall, web pages had an average of 19.8 WCAG 2.0 problems with a 13.43% FR for home pages; and an average of 20.94 problems with a 12.28% FR for home and secondary pages. The most commonly occurring WCAG 2.0 problems included not providing text for a link, failing to provide keyboard navigation, not offering alternate text for images, not specifying the natural language of the document and having a title attribute within a table used for layout purposes. The results also determined the newer 2.0 guidelines consistently found more problems than 1.0. For instance, WCAG 2.0 found 185 problems on one set of home and secondary pages, where WCAG 1.0 only found 39 on the same home and secondary pages. The researcher expected this because NYS had been working to achieve a sub-set of WCAG 1.0 compliance in the past. Therefore,perhaps many of the 1.0 issues had already been resolved. Furthermore, WCAG 2.0 is supposedly more thorough than the previous 1.0 version, and therefore caught more accessibility errors.There were no trends found regarding agencies with low accessibility compliance vs. those with high compliance. Compliance levels seemed to vary regardless of agency audience, network traffic and age. The implications of this research may influence NYS agencies to evaluate pages for WCAG 2.0. Also, some agencies seem to handle 2.0 accessibility more effectively than others. It may be helpful for certain agencies to share their WCAG 2.0 accessibility expertise and the processes they follow.