web still fairly inaccessible for blind and others

Thought you might find this interesting.

******* MQ *******


Accessible Web Sites Still Three To Six Times More Difficult

Kelly Pierce

Accessible Society E-Letter 10/30/2001


A new study has confirmed what accessibility experts continue to
point out: the Worldwide Web remains pretty un-usable for anyone who
cannot see a conventional computer screen and use a mouse with

"Web usability is three to six times better for non-disabled people
than for people with low vision, no vision or motor impairment," says
Jakob Nielsen, who the New York Times calls "the guru of web page
usability." His firm, the Nielsen Normal group, recently released a
study that shows this pretty conclusively.

Their 104 subjects included users with low vision, no vision, or
motor impairment and a control group of people without disabilities,
who were assigned 4 tasks: Find the average temperature in Dallas in
January; buy Janet Jackson's CD "All for You" from Target's website;
find a bus departing O'Hare airport to a specific address in Chicago
using the Chicago Transit Authority website, and find the best mutual
fund satisfying certain criteria on Schwab's website. The control
group of people without disabilities were able to complete the 4
tasks 78% of the time; screen reader users only 12.5% of the time.
While the control group spent only a little over 7 minutes "on task,"
the others took over twice as long. The control group's error rate
was only .06; screen reader users' error rate was 2.0; screen
magnifier users', 4.5.

"Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users with
Disabilities" was released last week at the Nielsen Norman Group's
Usability conference in Washington, DC. An overview of the 148-page
report is online at
there's a link there for downloading the report ($190). "Bad design
kills Websites," runs the headline of Washington Post internet
columnist Leslie Walker's Oct. 25 story about Nielsen's conference
online at

Walker's column refers to economics; but Chapman University's Art
Blaser says discussions based only on economic reasons to provide
access miss the point. "When we pass legislation ensuring rights, we
make a statement: those rights are too important to be guaranteed
only when they're cost-effective." Chapman says most "distance
learning" courses today remain inaccessible as well, despite software
that provides access if used correctly. Read Blaser's article online

Read more about the legal requirements for web access at
For the Center's overview of web access issues, visit
Visit Jakob Nielsen's website at
Please visit the website of The Center for An Accessible Society at
with more links to topics.
Go To The BONS Main Menu

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Received on Friday, 7 December 2001 10:49:43 UTC