2004 Conference Proceedings

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PRIORITIZING WEB ACCESSIBILITY EVALUATION DATA

Presenter(s)
Mary Theofanos
National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Blvd., Suite 400
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301.594.8193
Email: mtheo@mail.nih.gov

Andrew Kirkpatrick
WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
125 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
Phone: 617.300.4420
Email: andrew_kirkpatrick@wgbh.org

Jim Thatcher
800 Double Bend Back Road
Austin, TX 78746-4312
Phone: 512. 306.0931
Email: jim@jimthatcher.com

Web sites are constantly changing and, therefore, are always in need of evaluation for accessibility issues. At present, several evaluation tools exist that enable the site administrators to identify errors. Determining which pages are most in need of remediation is an important, but difficult, manual process that is often left undone.

Small Web site or sites with few detectable errors may not benefit significantly from a process that prioritizes errors that need to be addressed. Owners of such sites can usually repair all errors in a short period of time.

Large Web sites and sites with a continual influx of new content have a different problem. Owners of these sites may have too many errors to correct in a short period of time. By the time all errors found in an evaluation are addressed new pages may be added to the site, introducing new and potentially more egregious errors to the site.

Some large sites deal with the influx of new pages by scheduling evaluations on a regular and short interval. In this situation, the repair process is rarely comprehensive - the errors that are corrected are the ones at the top of the report generated by the evaluation tool and the ordering of errors in reports is often arbitrary. Addressing errors in this way will result in improvement of the overall accessibility of a site, but the amount of improvement per unit of time spent repairing a site is smaller than what is possible.

A Better Way

All errors that are discovered, whether by an evaluation tool or manually, should be corrected. However, an important fact to recognize is that the complete repair of all errors on a site may require time and resources that are not currently available at the time of the evaluation. Prioritizing errors by a variety of factors will help maximize the repair efforts.

A tool, called STEP, now exists to help site administrators prioritize accessibility errors. Using the output from several accessibility evaluation tools, a site administrator can quickly generate a report that provides several views of the errors, prioritized by several factors including ease of repair, page "importance" (determined by page traffic, position in site, and other criteria), and impact on users. With a sorted list in hand, repair efforts are focused on pages and errors that are the best targets for repair first.

Attendees will learn how to prioritize Web accessibility evaluation data and how STEP can add help streamline remediation efforts.

References

STEP: http://ncam.wgbh.org/webaccess/step 

National Cancer Institute: http://www.usability.gov 

CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media: http://ncam.wgbh.org 

Jim Thatcher's Web site: http://www.jimthatcher.com 


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