Ultimate goal: To improve academic & career outcomes for all students, including those with disabilities
Our Research Project: Questions 1.What is the current state of web and PDF accessibility at higher education institutions in the United States? 2.How many higher education institutions in the United States have policies related to web and/or IT accessibility? 3.How do institutions compare on their level of conversation related to web and technology accessibility? 4.Which independent variables are the best predictors of web and PDF accessibility?
The Population (n=3251) 1204 Associate's Colleges 623 Master's Colleges and Universities 594 Baccalaureate Colleges 518 Special Focus Institutions 283 Doctorate-granting Universities 29 Tribal Colleges Includes only institutions located in the 50 U.S. states Individual institutions with a shared parent institution and web template (e.g., ITT Technical Institute, Devry) were evaluated as one institution
Research Sample by Google Search Top 10 HTML pages at each institution Top 10 PDFs at each institution A count of number of results searching for "web accessibility" and "technology accessibility" (Conversation) A list of URLs searching for "web technology accessibility policy"
Auto-evaluated each web page (n=31,701) % of elements with alt attributes % of elements with "labels" Page has HTML headings (Y/N) Page has a lang attribute (Y/N) Page has ARIA landmark roles (Y/N)
Auto-evaluated each PDF (n=28,395) One measure: Is PDF tagged? (Y/N) Searched for string "/Marked true" – A reasonably reliable method of identifying tagged PDF – 100% reliable with manual test of 100 PDFs (50 tagged & 50 untagged)
Accessibility Links on Home Pages Automatically checked all links on institutional home pages for the word "Accessibility"
Manually Reviewed Policy Results A team of reviewers generously flagged all Google results that might be considered a policy Generally reviewed only top 10 search results at each institution, but were given latitude to follow obvious leads one level deep A panel of three experts conducted a more thorough analysis of all policies that survived the cut.
Four Categories of "Policies" Formal-standalone Formal-incorporated Standards or guidelines General statement
Results for Research Question 1: What is the current state of web and PDF accessibility at higher education institutions in the United States?
Overall Web Accessibility Headings – 77.9% (83.6% for Doctorate) Alt text – 60.4% (66.1% for Doctorate) Labels – 39.8% (44.2% for Doctorate) Lang – 37.3% (45.6% for Doctorate) ARIA – 3.3% (4.2% for Doctorate) Overall (Web) – 43.7% (48.8% for Doctorate) Tagged PDF – 33.8% (20.7% for Doctorate)
A Few More Observations California State University, State of Texas, and State of Illinois institutions significantly higher than average overall Slight but significant difference between highest-scoring region (Pacific) and lowest (Southeast and Southwest) In all of the above groups, very high within- group variance
On PDF Accessibility Highest scores were Tribal Colleges (40.7%) Second highest were Associates (39.7%) Explanation? – Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows – Automatically creates tagged PDF – Larger institutions are creating more complex PDFs using a wider variety of tools A manual inspection of a few revealed that some really are accessible, but many are not
Results for Research Question 2: How many higher education institutions in the United States have policies related to web and/or IT accessibility?
Policies Found 8.4% of institutions (274 policies) 26.1% of Doctorate (74 policies) 14.8% of Masters (92 policies) 6.3% of Associates (76 policies) 3.5% of Baccalaureate (21 policies) 2.1% of Special Focus (11 policies) 0 Tribal Colleges
Types of Policies Doctorate: – 47.3% are formal-standalone (35 policies) – 24.3% are formal-incorporated (18 policies) – 14.9% are general statement – 13.5% are guidelines and standards Masters: – Equal numbers of standalone and incorporated (39.1%, 36 policies) General statements were the most common type of policy among other types of institutions
Results for Research Question 3: How do institutions compare on their amount of conversation related to web and technology accessibility??
A Huge Range of "Conversation" Approx institutions have 0 results for "web accessibility" or "technology accessibility" Approx. 100 institutions have over 1000 results Six institutions have more than 10,000 results Five of these have "accessibility" links on their home pages (67.4% of these = "Accessibility") The one that doesn't: Penn State 17 of the top 50 institutions do not have a home page link
Results for Research Question 4: Which independent variables are the best predictors of web and PDF accessibility?
A policy's effect on conversation
Institutions with a policy are: Significantly higher on alt text Significantly higher on labeled input fields Not significantly different on other web accessibility measures (headings, lang, ARIA) Significantly less likely to have tagged PDF
Effects of type of policy Effect size are small, with high variance with groups. However… Formal standalone policies are related to greater accessibility Formal standalone policies are highly related to higher levels of conversation. This effect is especially strong when there is no Accessibility link on the home page.
Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis Great overall web accessibility scores are associated with: – More web accessibility conversation – Having an accessibility policy of any type – Being a Masters or Doctorate Institution – Being located in California – Not being located in the Southeast or Southwest – Having an accessibility link on the home page Together, all of these predictors only accounted for 3.3% of total variance. Which means…
The best predictors of web accessibility were not measured in this study.
The UW Experience: UW Accessible IT Task Force Goals: – Enhancement of Online Resources – Promotion of Accessible IT – Exploration of Policies/Processes Representation: – UW External Affairs – UW-IT – Disability Resources for Students – Office of Risk Management
Online Resources Accessibility Technology at the UW: IT Accessibility Policies in Higher Education: Video: Campus Leaders on IT Accessibility
Our Research Paper "Seeking Predictors of Web Accessibility in U.S. Higher Education Institutions" Published in latest issue of Information Technology and Disabilities (ITD) Journal (Volume 13 Number 1, April 2013)
Questions How is your campus promoting accessible IT? Does your institution have a web or IT accessibility policy? If so, how did that come about?
The ITD Journal is turning 20! Now seeking submissions for 20 th anniversary issue "an opportunity for each of us to reflect on what we've experienced [over the last 20 years in IT accessibility], consider the challenges that await, and share perspectives on how we can apply the lessons of yesterday toward meeting the challenges of tomorrow."