Publication Date

Fall 2017

Degree Type

Master's Project

Department

Computer Science

Abstract

Today, nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability that affects their daily life. These varied disabilities can include blindness, low vision or mobility impairments. When interacting with web content, users with such disabilities rely heavily on various assistive technologies, such as screen readers, keyboard, voice recognition software, etc. Here, assistive technologies are software applications or hardware devices that allows users with disabilities to interact with web and software applications. For instance, a screen reader is a software application that navigates through the page and speaks the content to users. Web accessibility is defined as the ability for assistive technology users to interact and perceive information on a webpage. For example, screen readers are used by users who are blind to read the content on a webpage and to interact with its elements, for example by activating a button. However, this is not always straightforward and easy. Accessibility is generally not a priority for many publishers and developers when building a product. This can lead to difficulties in understanding and perceiving content on the page for assistive technology users. For instance, a retail website without alternative descriptions for images is difficult for users who are blind to “look” for a product and get its information. This can result in the user leaving the website without making a purchase. Until recently, users with disabilities were not part of the usability testing phase. Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the numerous lawsuits that are being filed on major companies and educational institutions, digital accessibility awareness is growing and more web content designers and developers are building websites with accessibility in mind. In order to help test the accessibility of a webpage, a number of online applications are 4 available. This project reviews three such major applications that test for accessibility, and proposes to build an application prototype called ARIA Accessibility Analyzer (AAA). The main aim of AAA is to allow users to perform accessibility tests and remove accessibility barriers in an effective way. AAA is a Chrome browser extension that users can download to manage accessibility tests. These users can include developers, designers, Quality Assurance testers, students and professors. We finally conducted surveys and interviews to understand limitations of these existing technologies and to determine if these limitations have been satisfied in AAA application.

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