Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Practitioner barriers to diffusion and implementation of web accessibility

My research on the adoption challenges of web accessibility that I conducted during my master's research has been published this month in an academic journal.  The article Practitioner barriers to diffusion and implementation of web accessibility is published in the journal "Technology and Disability" (Volume 23, Number 4).

The paper looked at how as people are increasingly integrating online activities into their daily lives, disabled people are often impeded from accessing websites due to code and design barriers. Despite guidelines on how to improve web accessibility that have been around since the early days of the Web, accessibility adoption remains low. The responsibility to implement web accessibility tends to fall on web practitioners, yet prior scholarship has failed to adequately consult this group on their barriers to adoption.

I conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with web practitioners from  various sectors, locations, and job duties. I found that current social and individual values, inadequate guidelines and support, and monetary demands are halting the diffusion of web accessibility. These factors perpetuate an artificial construct of online disability and impede developments towards an inclusive Web medium.

The paper offered a model and recommendations to remediate this environment and thus improve accessibility rates. I have previously posted my recommendations on this blog, but my model has been updated and I will include it here.

The various factors affecting web accessibility. Societal foundations include education and training, media and industry, law and policy, attitudes towards disability, market forces, and customer demand. Stakeholder 
Perceptions include those of the website owner and web practitioner. Issues arising during web development apply during the initial site design, maintenance and ongoing  enhancement, and during redesign. The tools and resources that are relevant include  guidelines, support material, authoring tools, testing support, and hired experts. End user factors include trans-coding abilities, user agents, and assistive

Thanks to everyone who helped out with this research either as participants or as reviewers!

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