Using Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, higher education web sites were retrospectively analyzed to study the effects that technological advances in web design have had on accessibility for persons with disabilities.
A convenience sample of higher education web sites was studied for years 1997‐2002. The homepage and pages 1‐level down were evaluated. Web accessibility barrier (WAB) and complexity scores were calculated. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine trends in the data and Pearson's correlation (r) was computed to evaluate the relationship between accessibility and complexity.
Higher education web sites become progressively inaccessible as complexity increases.
The WAB score is a proxy of web accessibility. While the WAB score can give an indication of the accessibility of a web site, it cannot differentiate between barriers posing minimal limitations and those posing absolute inaccessibility. A future study is planned to have users with disabilities examine web sites with differing WAB scores to correlate how well the WAB score is gauging accessibility of web sites from the perspective of the user.
Findings from studies such as this can lead to improved guidelines, policies, and overall awareness of web accessibility for persons with disabilities.
There are limited studies that have taken a longitudinal look at the accessibility of web sites and explored the reasons for the trend of decreasing accessibility.
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