In the last week we have had many discussions about the evaluation checks and criteria we have been using on Web2Access. E-mails from Mary Jane Barnett from the University of North Texas have helped to highlight some issues that have been of concern… “I have wondered why some of the sites have such low ratings on the deaf/hard of hearing evaluation.”
The toolkit for evaluation is progressing well and we needed to make sure we had a fair cross section of evaluation checks for all disabilities. Those who are deaf or have hearing impairments may have the most problems with media content online, but not being able to hear videos is very different from the issue of not being able to see the animation or scenes and yet we had both under the title of Multimedia. A decision was made to divide this check into two separate tests: -
- Do all pages with audio or audio/video features relevant to the content offer alternatives? 0=No chance to add alternatives. 1=Possible to add text summary (number of characters may be restricted) 2=Possible to add full text transcript 3=Possible to add captioning and a text transcript. Sign language seen as an option that will be commented on.
- Do all pages with video /animation features without audio or complex scenes with verbal descriptions offer alternatives? 0=No chance to add alternatives. 1=Possible to add text summary (number of characters may be restricted) 2=Audio description or extended text description. 3=Extended audio description with text description
Mary Jane made a further comment about how we reach the final results and we had to admit that any ranking really was not very relevant with the percentages in place. So this part of the evaluation will be removed. The icons represent the four criteria for each test and are set out in line with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and our own experience and those of colleagues on web accessibility.
Each service is evaluated against the test criteria and how they impact on a range of disabilities. Sadly there is no way of accounting for individual skills and use of assistive technology. This is why we choose to evaluate using freely available screen readers that do not require the skills of more complex screen readers and we admit we are rather harsh with our marking .
Mary Jane Barnett is on the Advisory Committee for the Expanding Accessibility Project of the North Texas Regional Library System as an Independent Librarian/Consultant and has been amazingly helpful with all her comments. Her final point was about making sure everyone knew what products, services or applications we were evaluating for accessibility. Off the cuff I said: “We sometimes find different wikis or blogs are actually developed using the same service such as Word Press or Mediawiki so we tend to skip that sort of repetition. We choose those applications that have a free version and avoid those that require downloading onto a personal computer. Finally all the sites need to be truly interactive to qualify as Web 2.0 rather than Web 1.0.
Thank you Mary Jane for being such a wonderful critical friend! See you at Accessing the Higher Ground Conference in November, when I shall be presenting on all our projects! Please add comments folks!