Conference Paper: There and back – Charting flexible pathways in open, mobile and distance education

Citation: Alahmadi, T., & Drew, S. (2016). An evaluation of the accessibility of top-ranking university websites: Accessibility rates from 2005 to 2015. DEANZ2016, April 2016. Hamilton, New Zealand. The University of Waikato. [link]

This paper presents a review of university websites around the world, in Oceania, and in Arab countries, using the AChecker accessibility tool to gauge the number of WCAG AA-level errors in the home page of each university selected, as well as a random sample page from their admissions and course description websites (p. 226).

The study results (perhaps as expected) show that there are numerous accessibility errors on pages around the world. As the authors note, errors are high regardless of region, whether the university is “in the developed world, in countries such as the US, UK, Australia and Japan, or in developing countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” (p. 229).

However, the data as presented in the article makes it hard to tell the relative success and failure rates in by region, as the tables and charts only provide a summary from the total dataset, or compare a sum of all errors found in “global” vs “Oceania” vs “Arab” regions. Given the study’s focus on these three regions, more granularity in the data would be helpful.

Despite this minor flaw in its presentation, the study provides a useful reminder that web accessibility is still a problem in universities around the world. As the authors say, the increasing importance of web-based learning management systems and the use of the web to distribute course materials and other forms of media to students make web accessibility a higher priority than ever before (p. 232).