Sunday, July 23, 2006

Even the best websites can be difficult for disabled people says Socitm report

Need to do a better job of Web accessibility ...

"New research by a panel of disabled users for Socitm Insight has revealed that even the best websites can cause usability and accessibility problems for people with disabilities including visual problems, impaired motor skills and dyslexia.

The findings are set out in a report presented at the recent Socitm Insight/Headstar conference Building a Perfect Website that took place in London on July 11.

The user testing was organised by the Usability Exchange, with a group of seven disabled testers of mixed gender, age, and experience, including people with blindness, partial sight, dyslexia, profound deafness, cerebral palsy, and lack of dexterity in the hands. The group carried out the tests with their own computer equipment including screen readers (for blind users) and screen magnifiers (for the visually impaired).

Testers were asked to complete the same two tasks on each of the websites named as ‘top twenty’ sites in the 2006 edition of Better connected, Socitm Insight’s annual survey of all local authority websites. Task one was to use the council website to find the council’s switchboard phone number, and task two was to report an abandoned car through the website.

Council websites were given a 1-star rating if all disabled testers were able to complete task one, a simple task for a council website. A 2-star rating was given if all disabled testers were able to complete both Task 1 and Task 2, a complex transaction-based task. A 3-star rating was awarded if all disabled testers were able to complete both Task 1 and Task 2 with no tester reporting any accessibility or usability problems in the process.

The results showed that 19 out of the 20 local authorities (95%) achieved a 1-star rating or better. Seven out of the 20 (35%) achieved a 2-star rating, but none achieved a 3-star rating, meaning that for every local authority tested, accessibility or usability problems were reported by at least one user. The best received three reported problems and the worst nineteen such problems, with the average 9.5 problems."   (Continued via       [Ergonomics Resources]

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