[DRAFT] Review Teams for Evaluating Web Accessibility
Note: This document is a draft and should not be referenced or quoted under any circumstances.
$Date: 2006/02/09 21:54:01 $ [changelog]
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Evaluation of Web accessibility can benefit from the involvement of a team of reviewers with diverse and complementary expertise and perspectives. While it is possible for individuals to evaluate Web accessibility effectively if they have training and experience in a variety of areas, it is less likely that one individual will have all the expertise and perspectives that a team approach can bring.
This document describes possible team structures, expertise, and effective practices of Web accessibility review teams. The suggestions in this document are based on experience from individuals and organizations who have been evaluating Web accessibility for a number of years.
References to related evaluation resources are mentioned throughout the document. Most of these resources are also part of this resource suite, Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility.
Operation of Web accessibility review teams according to the suggestions in this document does not guarantee evaluation results indicating conformance or non-conformance to any given law or regulation relating to Web accessibility, nor does the document describe a certification process for Web accessibility review teams.
Use of a team of reviewers, rather than an individual reviewer, allows a combination of expertise and perspectives that can increase the quality of evaluation. There are a variety of possible types of Web accessibility review teams. These include:
- A review team might be composed of colleagues within a larger organization who share responsibility for conducting evaluations of Web content accessibility. If the team members are located within the same work unit, there may be good opportunities for coordinating the review process. However, sometimes individuals might be assigned to a team because of other shared work responsibilities, and this may not always result in optimal diversity of expertise and perspectives among team members.
- A review team might be composed of individuals distributed between a number or different organizations, but who coordinate with each other in conducting and reporting on Web accessibility evaluations. For instance, government workers might have a shared need to monitor Web site accessibility across a number of ministries, departments, or agencies, and might decide that this can be more efficiently accomplished by forming a virtual team where each member conducts the aspect of the review on which they have the most expertise, and contributes the results to a combined report. This type of review team might present more coordination challenges, but allow more flexibility in selecting team members with a diversity of expertise.
- A review team might be composed of people who have come together primarily for the purpose of conducting evaluations of Web accessibility, whether as a business venture or on a voluntary basis. For instance, individual Web developers might come together because they see a market opportunity for Web evaluation services; or individual disability advocates might want to monitor the progress or problems with the accessibility of certain types of sites. Again this type of standalone review team may initially experience coordination challenges, but have the flexibility to select team members with a diversity of expertise.
Effective evaluation of Web accessibility requires more than just a working knowledge of HTML and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
(WCAG 1.0). It requires knowledge of a broad range of Web technologies;
Techniques for WCAG 1.0 as well as the Guidelines themselves; general
principles of Web accessibility evaluation; use of a variety of Web
validation and accessibility evaluation tools; and use of assistive
technologies and adaptive strategies by people with disabilities. In
areas such as use of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies,
effective approach is generally involvement of users with
disabilities in the review process, and this can also increase the quality of the overall evaluation.
- Web mark-up languages and validation tools
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) and Techniques for WCAG 1.0
- Evaluation of Web Content Accessibility
- Use of a variety of evaluation tools for Web site accessibility
- Use of computer-based assistive technologies and adaptive strategies
- Web design and development.
Communicate review process and expectations in advance
Evaluations should generally start with communication about how the review will be conducted. There are exceptions to this, however, such as when an evaluation is part of a required monitoring process, or an advocacy effort.Advance communication can help set clear expectations as to the scope of the site being evaluated; the evaluation methodology and tools; what types of information the evaluation report will include; how specific the recommendations will or will not be with regard to repairs needed on the site; and whether the results will be public or private.
This advance communication can help avoid suprises, and provide an opportunity for adjustment of the planned evaluation before it begins.
Coordinate review process and communication of results
[@@ add more detail?] Communication during the evaluation process may be useful for clarifying certain questions, but is important for ensuring that the results of the evaluation report are well understood.
Reference specific checkpoints when explaining results
[@@ add detail and link to evaluation template] Reports from review teams are most effective when they cite and link to specific WCAG 1.0 checkpoints which are not conformed to.
Provide feedback on guidelines and implementation support resources
Feedback on implementation support resources contributes to improving the quality of review tools and processes for all. Where possible, provide feedback on implementation support resources [@@ add detail]