Bradbard, D. A., Peters, C., & Caneva, Y. (2010). Web Accessibility Policies at Land-Grant Universities. Internet and Higher Education, 13(4), 258–266.
Note: All pull quotes below are from this paper. The additional comments and questions are my own, unless otherwise attributed.
Web accessibility policies guide university faculty and staff that serve as Website developers for the organization.
Note: the premise doesn’t address students as web content creators
To examine the extent and effectiveness of Web accessibility policies at land-grant universities in the United States.
- overview of Web accessibility studies
- legal mandates
- literature on organizational policies
Note: no theoretical framework is provided
Note: authors’ positionality or bias not provided
Note: authors are from a school for management and approach this as a management/policy deficiency issue
- content analysis of the Web accessibility policies of land-grant universities
- 2 trained reviewers followed an emergent coding process as described by Stemler (2001) to independently review and code all transcripts.
- 2 point rating system: 2 = covered in-depth, 1 = covered and 0 = not covered
- Inter-rater reliability for the two independent reviewers was computed using the number of agreements divided by the total number of observations as described by Hartman (2006). (97%)
- most universities have a Web accessibility policy
- most are adept at covering:
- reasons for the policy
- standards and guidelines
- more than half had minimal coverage of:
- validation tools
- contact information for IT support
- more than half failed to cover:
- to whom the policy applies
- information on training
- the time frame for implementation
- approval for the accessibility
- violations of the standards.
- See Table 7 for data points, mean, standard deviation, etc.
- median score from content analysis scheme was a 6.5 out of 26 possible points, this supports the author’s conclusion that most policies have serious deficiencies.
- “many schools are likely in violation of the ADA and at risk for a lawsuit from a disabled person unless these policies are strengthened.”
My Notes With Quotes:
Question: If this paper was being written and published in 2020, would this statement require citation?
Observation: In 2020, there are web accessible templates for self-published websites and web accessible LMS features that weren’t available at the time of this publication. However, faculty and students may not have the accessibility literacy skills to know how to use the features to make their site or content accessible. They may not know they need to adjust their workflow.
Question: I think it’s fair to say in the overnight shift to COVID-crisis-education online, educators are expressing many concerns about lack of time and institutional support related to digital tools. How often / how well are accessibility content practices included in educator and student training for the pivot?
To Do: Look for research post-COVID pivot on educator’s sense of support /time/accessibility issues in 2021 .
To Do: look for comparable Canadian stats. Pull stats from centers from accessibility in post sec and Stats Can.
Observation: Excellent overview! The table is a valuable quick-reference for assistive technologies and needs.
Consider: drafting a similar table relates the data available on communities of disabled students in post sec and accessibility features/skills that relate to their needs. E.g CAL’s annual report has a pie chart with categories for disabilities reported by the students they support. Consider mapping skills and features to those categories.
Question: what would be an appropriate way to cite this table in my thesis as the inspriation for this idea?
|1. Provide alternative text for all images|
|2. Provide alternative text for all image map hot-spots (AREAs)|
|3. Explicitly associate form controls and their labels with the LABEL element|
|4. Give each frame a title|
|5. Provide alternative text for each APPLET|
|6. Provide alternative text for all image-type buttons in forms|
|7. Include default, place-holding characters in edit boxes and text areas|
|8. Identify the language of the text|
Observation: This rewrite of the 508 guidelines does make them more readable but it doesn’t differentiate which of these can be addressed in code vs content. From an educator’s POV, how would they know what they can do vs what is done behind-the-scenes by the platform they use or university IT?
Consider: by redrafting WCAG requirements as skills and proficiencies (literacies) I’ve made the to-dos approachable for educators but can I go further by mapping those literacies to the tools commonly used? E.G where in the technology we use do we apply the skills? Where is alt, text entered? How are captions created/found? Is that too much? Or would it make for a useful resource?
Observation: UVic CAL has a statement for educators to add to syllabi and their website says,” University policy requires all members of the university community to share the responsibility to promote equality, remove barriers, and create a respectful and inclusive learning environment.” The actual policy is not provided.
To Do: Ask for most current UVIC policy on web accessibility.
Consider: survey BC and ON faculty and students – are they aware of the institution’s policy on web accessibility? Would they know how to meet it? Are they aware of legal requirements? Would they know how to meet them? Do they feel the policy / laws apply to their use of the web?
Observation: recommendations targeted at developers, not educators and students. Study uses the recommendations as basis for content analysis data collection.
To Do: Look for updated recommendations from WebAim.
Consider / To Do: Find out if participant institutions updated and shared web accessibility policy during the COVID pivot. Do educators new to online education know the policy and legislation requirements?
Consider: how could I determine the level of web accessibility training / effectiveness of training that is offered to post sec educators and students?
Observation: I’ve tried to navigate Purdue’s Online Writing Lab with a screen reader. It’s very challenging. Alternative navigation seemed to be minimally supported in that section of the site. This is not a condemnation of their efforts, only a reminder of the potential for a gap between policy and execution; and the potential inconsistent execution.
Observation: this assumes faculty have wondered about the policy’s applicability to them and consciously decided they are exempt. I suspect most faculty aren’t even aware of the policy’s existence and don’t know enough about what web accessibility to think to ask for the institution’s policy on it. I don’t think we have any baseline statistics for: awareness of web accessibility; and awareness of institutional policy.
Observation: This is a powerful conclusion / recommendation. Common web accessibility errors are published by various sources.
Future Research: Consider running an analysis of various common errors; relating them to content creation/ content curation (i.e. seperate content authoring issues from development issues); then doing a content analysis or institutional ethnography looking for training/interventions that addresses the issues in BC and ON post sec institutions. ***
Future Research: identify the role / person / people responsible for web accessibility policy, training and enforcement at participant institutions. Do any institutions treat WA skills as professional development for educators? A required academic writing skill? A literacy skill for educators and students sharing digital course content?
Observation: Learning management systems have become more pervasive since publication. Many still pose accessibility challenges for students. One could do an entire study on the accessibility hurdles that extend from inconsistent/minimally-trained use of LMS. Getting everyone on an accessible platform is step one but getting everyone to load accessible content remains a problem. Getting people to use built-in accessibility features is another. And the flexibility that all faculty have to set up their course their own way in an LMS means that students with cognitive disabilities experience serious accessibility issues stemming from inconsistent navigation systems and information architecture.