whoohoo.co.uk 'an example of excellence in website accessibility'
15th April 2004
Egg.com and Oxfam.org.uk were among just five websites praised for their excellent
accessibility, following a landmark study by the Disability Rights Commission
that is already influencing the Internet's standards-setting body, the W3C.
City University London tested 1,000 UK-based sites on behalf of the DRC, an
independent statutory body responsible for advising Government on the effectiveness
of disability discrimination legislation. The year-long investigation for the
research is the most comprehensive examination into the accessibility of websites
- covering Government, business, leisure, web services and e-commerce websites.
Its findings, released yesterday, confirmed what many already suspected: very
few sites are accessible to the disabled albeit an inaccessible site
presents a risk of legal action under the UK's Disability Discrimination Act.
However, while the report did not "name and shame" the 808 sites
that failed to reach a minimum standard of accessibility in automated tests,
City University has today revealed five "examples of excellence" from
- Egg Bank (http://www.egg.com) - Internet bank
- Oxfam (http://www.oxfam.org.uk) - charity
- Spinal Injuries Scotland (http://www.sisonline.org) - spinal injuries voluntary
- COPAC (http://www.copac.ac.uk) - on-line catalogues of research libraries
- whoohoo.co.uk (http://www.whoohoo.co.uk) - comedy dialect translator
Helen Petrie, Professor of Human Computer Interaction Design at City University,
said: The Spinal Injuries Scotland site highlights how an accessible website
can be created on a small budget and still be lively and colourful. Additionally,
Eggs site shows larger firms can embrace accessibility without compromising
their corporate image or losing any sophistication from their e-services.
Despite these examples of excellence, the overwhelming majority of websites
were difficult, and at times impossible, for people with disabilities to access.
Petrie added: Web developers need to use the Web Accessibility Initiative
(WAI) guidelines as well as involve disabled users to ensure web sites are usable
for these groups.
The user group also revealed that nearly a quarter of the most routine and
straightforward online tasks could not be completed because of poor access.
Blind people were the most disenfranchised from the web, as they were unable
to perform nearly half the tasks set them despite the use of assistive technology
such as screen readers.
Professor Helen Petrie said: The investigation found many web developers
were unaware of the steps needed and the costs involved to make their websites
accessible for disabled people.
Web developers need to use the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines
as well as involve disabled users to ensure websites are usable for these groups.
In undertaking the research, City Universitys Centre for Human Computer
Interaction used commercially available software tools for automated testing
to test for technical compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines.
City University London used Watchfire's enterprise accessibility solution to
perform the automated website testing on behalf of the Disability Rights Commission
(DRC). Developed for large, multi-user environments, Watchfire's accessibility
module integrates the testing capabilities of Watchfire's leading website accessibility
tool, Bobby(tm) with the robust scanning and reporting capabilities of Watchfire's
enterprise technology. Watchfire provides Online Business Management software
and services to help organisations protect their brand, reduce risks associated
with privacy and accessibility breaches and enable regulatory compliance.