I had no experience with accessibility validation prior to this unit. After an initial look at this information, I have arrived at a few main conclusions:
My Investigative Approach to the Subject
I went to the resource links provided by our instructor Dennis. (Note the "Unit 1 Resources" page provides excellent referral information without being bloated with numerous links.)
I utilized Bobby (online) and also downloaded and installed A-Prompt software on my computer. Making initial use of both of the programs is fairly intuitive, and does not require much referring to help files. I checked for accessibility a number of web pages located on different learning sites and also checked web pages that have no association with learning web sites. There is a wide range of compliance levels among the different pages. My initial conclusion is that the software programs make compliance analysis easy to do and understand. It also seems that understanding HTML and other aspects of web pages is very important.
Comments on Bobby and A-Prompt
Bobby is a free (online) accessibility program. It does a good job showing what needs to be fixed on a web page. It is a good resource to have available if you are in the field (away from your computer) and need to check web pages. However I am surprised by the poor page formatting and use of fonts. In addition its page reporting presentation seems unrefined. However it does get the job done and it provides excellent explanations, via hyperlinks, to the various rules of compliance. I do not believe Bobby has an interface for "repairing" web pages and making them compliant as does A-Prompt. Note: Bobby does limit the number of uses it allows in an hour.
A-Prompt is also a free accessibility program but it requires downloading (fast download) and installing on your computer. It utilizes a split screen to list aspects of the web pages you are examining, stating if they are compliant or not. It has a much more refined and reader-friendly interface than Bobby does. The interface provides a means of correcting ( the program calls it repairing) the pages and making them compliant with accessibility requirements. In my initial explanation of this program, I found that web pages had to saved on to my local computer in order to be tested.
Web Pages Checked with Programs
I checked web pages from a few distance learning sites:
Other web pages were tested from non-learning web sites as well as web pages that I created in FrontPage. Note: I can see the benefit in knowing the availability of the Lift for Microsoft FrontPage program .
My main conclusion after testing the various pages is that the better laid out or formatted pages are more compliant. They may not have even been trying to be compliant, but they incorporated many of the required elements of accessibility, just by them using more sophisticated web development tools.
The following are accessibility requirements as stated in the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: