Murphy, Pat (2013) Evaluating Web Accessibility for Blind Individuals. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.
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As the world's population becomes further dependant on the web for services and information, a large number of people with disabilities are disadvantaged.
What was once considered a luxury, has now become a means for total interaction with society. A great deal of tasks now performed on a daily basis by people require some access to a web environment. Consider the Olympic games held in London in 2012. Tickets for these were only available online. It is estimated by the world health organisation (who) that approximately 1 billion people are disabled, suggesting that they are no longer a niche sector of the population. Of these, 39 million are totally blind while a further 246 million have some sort of visual impairment. Web accessibility can be defined as the practice of making a web site accessible to all types of users. There have been a number of attempts to address this, from international guidelines and standards to local and national legislation and laws enacted in various countries throughout the world. However, a lot of these standards and guidelines are focused on insuring that government sites conform. There is very little to enforce accessibility on web sites that are not government related. The Web Assessment Accessibility Model (WAAM) software, was designed to address this problem specifically in relation to blind users. Data was collected on evaluated pages, showing what was found, what was changed and what would need direct human intervention. The measure for success was the amount of items changed, versus those identified as potential problems.
Three sets of data were analysed. Irish educational sites and a random set of 100 sites from Ireland and Spain were selected by a Google search. Spain is one of the few countries that did not have to migrate a lot of legacy systems to web environments. As a result, it was thought, that their levels of accessibility should have been better than most. In each of these data sets, only the home page of each site was evaluated.
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