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Is WCAG easy to understand?

Internet er et fantastisk sted, vi kan gjøre mer og mer av våre dagligdagse oppgaver på nettet,  nettet benyttes i dag fra alt til å søke jobber, kjøpe dagligvarer og ferier, levere selvangivelse og sjekke din elektroniske postkasse. Nettet er også tilgjengelig fra mange steder og på mange enheter, dette gjør at mennesker som kanskje ikke har mulig til å dra på jobb midlertidig eller permanent kan jobbe hjemmefra. Ifølge Tufts University og Mastercard er Norge (eller var i 2017) verdensledende innen digitalisering. Det Norske samfunnet har blitt avhengig av nettbasserte tjenester og det har større og større negative effekter for personer som ikke klarer å bruke disse tjenestene. Se den vedlagte tabellen over de mest digitaliserte landene i verden ifølge Tufts University

CountryRankScore
Norway13.79
Sweden23.79
Switzerland33.74

https://sites.tufts.edu/digitalplanet/files/2017/05/Digital_Planet_2017_FINAL.pdf

WCAG

To ensure that society reaps the greatest benefits possible from online solutions it is important to make sure that they are accessible for as many people as possible. Accessible web solutions allow people with impairments to perform their daily tasks without the need for help from others, they can also help in enabling people with impairments function effectively in their work. 

The Norwegian government agrees with us in that online solutions should be available for as many people as possible, through Forskrift om universell utforming av informasjons- og kommunikasjonsteknologiske (IKT)-løsninger the was majority of ICT-solutions in Norway has to follow parts of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. In Norway we have currently have to meet 35 of 61 WCAG 2.0 success criteria, these are translated to Norwegian by Difi (text in Norwegian). Fossekall Teknologi expects the Norwegian law to change the requirement from WCAG 2.0 to WCAG 2.1 sometime in the future, it is not yet known when this change will be made. 

Interpretation

The Norwegian law uses WCAG because WCAG is seen as testable requirements, it is though important to remember that WCAG is a set of generalized guidelines. Following WCAG 2.0 perfectly does not guarantee that your online solution is accessible to persons with disabilities. You must also employ other methods to ensure accessibility, like user testing.   

WCAG is a set of guidelines that are designed to be interpreted by people making ICT systems, but how they are interpreted varies from person to person. If we say that expert evaluators must meet an 80% agreement rate in order to say if an ICT solution follows WCAG we began to encounter problems. 

Let us examine WCAG success criteria 1.1.1 

1.1.1 Non-text Content: All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose, except for the situations listed below. (Level A)…

w3.org

Here WCAG asks use to give a textual alternative providing an “equivalent purpose”, Difi has translated the requirement to Norwegian: 

Alt ikke-tekstlig innhold som presenteres for brukeren, har et tekstalternativ som har samme formål, med unntak av situasjonene som er beskrevet nedenfor…

uu.difi.no

But it can be hard to say when a textual alternative provides the same context as the original element.

Research

We in Fossekall Teknologi are not the first ones who has found WCAG to be hard to test, studies into the testability of WCAG 2.0 has been conducted. In a study with where 22 expert evaluators were asked to test four complex websites it was shown that the experts failed to achieve the 80% agreement threshold. The expert evaluators failed to reach an 80% agreement rate for 50% of the WCAG 2.0 success criteria (Brajnik, Yesilada, & Harper, 2010). The experts failed to find an avarage of 32% of all true WCAG 2.0 errors and produced 20% false positives in the study. The study also had 27 participants who were not accessibility experts, these non-experts produced 42% false positives and 49% false negatives. Several similar studies have found comparative results. (Alonso, Fuertes, González, & Martínez, 2010; Brajnik, Yesilada, & Harper, 2012).

We see that experts are better than non-experts at identifying WCAG 2.0 errors, but the difference is smaller than one might assume. Even if you only use accesibility experts to evaluate the WCAG 2.0 compliance of your ICT products you are not guaranteed WCAG 2.0 compliance. Therefore it is imperative that your accessibility work goes beyond the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. This can also help employees enjoy their work, by not being constricted to accessibility work being a checklist employees can find additional rewarding challenges and learn more in their job. Research shows that ICT solutions that are accessible for people with impairments are more enjoyable and easier to use for people people without impairments as well.

Alonso, F., Fuertes, J. L., González, Á. L., & Martínez, L. (2010). On the Testability of WCAG 2.0 for Beginners. Proceedings of the 2010 International Cross Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility (W4A), 9:1–9:9. https://doi.org/10.1145/1805986.1806000

Brajnik, G., Yesilada, Y., & Harper, S. (2010). Testability and Validity of WCAG 2.0: The Expertise Effect. Proceedings of the 12th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, 43–50. https://doi.org/10.1145/1878803.1878813

Brajnik, G., Yesilada, Y., & Harper, S. (2012). Is Accessibility Conformance an Elusive Property? A Study of Validity and Reliability of WCAG 2.0. ACM Trans. Access. Comput., 4(2), 8:1–8:28. https://doi.org/10.1145/2141943.2141946

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