E-inclusion is one of the main flagships for breaking the digital divide between regular population and those who cannot benefit of a free access to information and services in the digital era. One of these barriers concerns people with disabilities, who have special requirements for interacting with information and services (i.e., digital access ramps). Since nowadays the main medium for providing these is the Web, due to its ubiquity, its a matter of rights and law abiding that Web sites must be accessible to everyone, despite of having or not some kind of disability.
However, since anyone can contribute to the Web (e.g., new content, new Web sites, etc.) without any kind of certification, there is no control over accessibility issues. It is left in the hand of contributors to ensure accessibility to everyone. While there are normative guidelines for ensuring the development of accessible Web sites, it is not known how these are being followed. Consequently, it is yet unknown what is the current state of the Web as a whole, regarding its accessibility, including from the perspective of different accessibility-dependent users. This leads to a gap on the efforts to evangelise, educate, and even enforce those who contribute to the Web to take into account accessibility issues from the ground start.
With QualWeb, we propose the characterisation of the Portuguese Web from an accessibility point-of-view. This characterisation will provide answers to the current state of accessibility of the Portuguese Web both from general and personalised points-of-view (e.g., how accessible is for a blind person vs. for a deaf person). Based on this characterisation we propose a set of accessibility services for end users, including the visualisation of the different properties obtained for the characterisation process, as well as a Web search service on top of the Portuguese Web that takes into account accessibility into Web page ranking processes.
In order to accomplish this goal, the QualWeb project will build on existing knowledge and expertise on Web accessibility assessment and large-scale Web graph storage, mining, and retrieval from the project teams (FFCUL and FCCN). The complementary expertise will be centred on the development of a large-scale accessibility evaluation framework to analyse the Web and provide answers on their accessibility properties. This framework will execute a set of accessibility evaluation and quantification components that can take into account accessibility personalisation issues (e.g., what is the quality level for a blind person and to overall users). Although this framework is expected to cope with the whole Web, we will focus solely on the Portuguese Web, since the computational resources required for the entire Web are difficult to attain.
Based on the aforementioned proposed work, this project will advance the state-of-the-art on large-scale characterisations of the accessibility of the Web (methods, metrics, and results), personalised Web accessibility methodologies and quantification processes, as well as on accessibility-aware Web search. By the end of the project, and with these advancements, we will make available the set of accessibility services to all users (including those who are accessibility-dependent), to explore the results from the characterisation. This will allow to direct accessibility experts on further improving accessibility awareness at different levels (legislation, education, development, etc.). Lastly, with the technology transfer between the project teams, QualWeb will be used to establish the ground for the creation of a National Web Accessibility observatory, to report on accessibility characterisations of the Portuguese Web, as well as to guide its implementation in other countries (and even at a global level).
- Nádia Fernandes, Rui Lopes and Luís Carriço, On Web Accessibility Evaluation Environments, W4A 2011, Hyderabad, India, 28-29 March 2011, Download paper
- Nádia Fernandes, Rui Lopes and Luís Carriço, An Architecture for Multiple Web Accessibility Evaluation Environments, HCI International 2011, Orlando, USA, 9-14 July 2011, Download paper
- Rui Lopes and Luís Carriço, Macroscopic Characterisations of Web Accessibility, The New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, , 2010, Download paper
- Nádia Fernandes, Rui Lopes and Luís Carriço, Avaliação Pericial de Barreiras ao Acesso sobre Sítios Web de Entidades Públicas, Interacção 2010, Aveiro, Portugal, 14‐15 October 2010, Download paper
- Rui Lopes, Daniel Gomes and Luís Carriço, Web Not For All: A Large Scale Study of Web Accessibility, W4A: 7th ACM International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, 26-27 April 2010, Download paper