Vicki Hanson,

University of Dundee


Title: Re-Thinking Web Accessibility

Abstract: Previous studies of Web accessibility have found little evidence for the impact of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, at least over the relatively short time periods examined. This talk presents new data from over 100 top-traffic and government websites over the 14 years since the publication of WCAG 1.0. Automated analyses of WCAG Success Criteria again found high percentages of violations overall. Unlike earlier studies, however, improvements on a number of accessibility indicators were found, with government sites being less likely than top-traffic non-government sites to have accessibility violations. Examination of the causes of success and failure suggests that improvements may be due, in part, to changes in website technologies and coding practices rather than a focus on accessibility per se. Possible contributors to improving accessibility include the use of new browser capabilities to create more sophisticated page layouts, a growing concern with improved page rank in search results, and a shift toward cross-device content design. Understanding these examples may inspire the creation of additional technologies with incidental accessibility benefits. The talk concludes with a look at how adapting even non-compliant Web content can improve accessibility for a broad range of people.

Short bio: Vicki Hanson is Professor of Inclusive Technologies at the University of Dundee, and Research Staff Member Emeritus from IBM Research. She has been working on issues of inclusion for older and disabled people throughout her career, first as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She joined the IBM Research Division in 1986 where she founded and managed the Accessibility Research group. Her research examines the changing nature of technologies and the motivations and barriers to their use by populations in danger of digital exclusion, focusing on issues related to aging, cognition, and language. Applications she has created have received multiple awards from organizations representing older and disabled users. She is Past Chair of the ACM SIG Governing Board, Past Chair of ACM Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing (SIGACCESS), and is the founder and co-Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing. Prof Hanson is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and was named ACM Fellow in 2004 for contributions to computing technologies for people with disabilities. In 2008, she received the ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award for the application of HCI research to pressing social needs. She currently is the ACM Secretary/Treasurer. We recently received the 2013 Anita Borg “Woman of Vision Award for Social Impact” and was just elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


Date: 2013-Feb-25     Time: 18:30:00     Room: 336

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