2002 Conference Proceedings

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Wendy A Chisholm,
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), wendy@w3.org

This session will provide attendees with hands-on experience at using evaluation tools to determine the accessibility of Web content in relation to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0). It is based on the techniques described in "Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility." [1]

In this session, we will demonstrate tools and processes for checking your Web site for accessibility issues.

Topics include:

- Practice using tools and processes to evaluate Web content
- Understand how to use tools and guidelines to determine if a site is accessible
- Discuss questions about your site
- Learn about the variety of tools that are available

This session gives participants direct experience with tools and processes to evaluate Web content for accessibility.

The first three sections of this paper are copied from "Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility" which is being developed by the Education and Outreach Working Group and is still under review.

1. Introduction

There are a variety of tools and approaches for evaluating Web site accessibility. No single evaluation tool yet provides comprehensive information or captures all problems with regard to the accessibility of a site; therefore evaluation involves a combination of approaches. Goals for evaluating Web sites vary, and require different approaches to meet those goals:

Preliminary review can:
- identify general kinds of barriers on a Web site.

Conformance evaluation can:
- catch major problems during development phase of a new site;
- determine the WCAG 1.0 conformance level for an existing Web site;
- demonstrate that a Web site meets a given WCAG 1.0 conformance level.

2. Preliminary Review

A preliminary review may help to quickly identify the scope of problems on a Web site. However, the preliminary review will not catch all of the problems on a site and should not be used to determine conformance level. A preliminary review does not include perspectives from a variety of users with disabilities nor does it touch or test every aspect of a site.

A preliminary review combines some manual checking of representative pages on a Web site, along with the use of several semi-automatic accessibility checkers. Reviewers do not need to know Web mark-up languages, but should be able to download software and familiarize themselves with some online tools, and change certain settings on their browser.

3. Conformance Evaluation to WCAG 1.0

A comprehensive evaluation combines semi-automatic, manual, and usability testing. Comprehensive evaluations require familiarity with Web mark-up languages; initial downloading and/or training on a variety of evaluation tools and approaches; configuration of browser settings; and coordination with reviewers with a variety of disabilities. Evaluation with users is important as it helps to identify problems in how the technical solutions are being applied.

A properly conducted comprehensive evaluation can identify potentially major problems during the development phase for a new site; determine what level of accessibility a Web site meets; and/or provide assurance that a Web site meets a required level of accessibility.

4. Hands-on experience

In this session, we will demonstrate tools for conducting both Preliminary Reviews and Conformance Evaluations to WCAG 1.0. Bring the address of a site you are curious about and during the session we will use the processes and tools described to evaluate your site. We will have an open discussion to help answer as many questions as we can.

4.1 Preliminary Review

To perform a Preliminary Review, select a sample of pages from a Web site and interact with them using a variety of browsers and tools. The Preliminary Review is intended to identify potential problems on the site and is not a thorough review of all pages nor using all possible tools.

We will

- demonstrate a variety of browsers and how to change the settings to perform a Preliminary Review,
- demonstrate a variety of accessibility evaluation tools,
- demonstrate a tool developed by the W3C to collect results from a variety of accessibility evaluation tools to help the reviewer summarize results,
- learn the steps required to conduct a Preliminary Review,
- practice conducting a Preliminary Review using the steps and tools discussed and demonstrated.

4.2 Conformance Review

The Conformance Review is similar to the Preliminary Review but it is more thorough. Instead of selecting a small sample of pages, every page that will be included in the conformance claim needs to be reviewed. A wider variety of tools are used and the site is tested with people who have disabilities.

Using the tools that were introduced for the Preliminary Review, we will learn the difference between the Preliminary Review and Conformance Review. We will familiarize ourselves with the Conformance Evaluation process by conducting a Conformance Evaluation.

5. The Future

The Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group (ERT WG) [2] is developing the Evaluation and Report Language (EARL) [3] to help content evaluators and content authors track accessibility issues in content. This language may also be used to describe the results of evaluating any tool for conformance to a specification. For example, EARL could be used to say that a user agent conforms to Level A of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines or that a Web site conforms to Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, or even to say that a Web site conforms to XHTML 1.1 or some other language.

This information is stored in EARL so that other tools can make use of it. For example, if several authors use EARL to describe the accessibility of their Web sites, then a search engine could look through this information to find a site that meets specific accessibility requirements. Someone who does not read well could look only for sites that supplement text with images, multimedia, and other illustrations.

Our primary use of EARL during this session, will be to combine results from a variety of tools to help summarize the issues with a site. You do not need to know anything about EARL to attend this session.

[1] http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/ 

[2] http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/ 

[3] http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/Overview.html#earl 

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