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[DRAFT] Review Teams for Evaluating Web Accessibility

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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. 

Types of 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:

Recommended 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, the most effective approach is generally involvement of users with disabilities in the review process, and this can also increase the quality of the overall evaluation.

Recommended expertise includes:

Best Practices

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]