The EU Web Accessibility Benchmarking Cluster, Evaluation and benchmarking of Accessibility
A cluster of European projects to develop a harmonized European methodology for evaluation and benchmarking of websites.
Accessibility checks can be carried out in different ways even if the checks are based on the same guidelines. The Unified Web Evaluation Methodology (UWEM1.2) is the result of a joint harmonization effort by 23 European organisations in three European projects combined in a cluster called the WAB Cluster. They have developed UWEM to ensure that large scale monitoring and local evaluation are compatible and coherent among themselves and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from W3C/WAI.
The UWEM methodology has already incorporated support for the migration from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0. Thus, UWEM is the ideal instrument to support evaluation, (self)certification, and benchmarking of web content in Europe and beyond. Within the WAB Cluster we are building an observatory for lare scale European evaluation and benchmarking of website accessibility. This supports large scale and local evauation.
The UWEM methodology is conformant with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and based on an interpretation of WCAG agreed among stakeholders. In this way, it can offer unprecedented guidance for evaluation and benchmarking.
Development of a EU-harmonised assessment methodology for Web accessibility, based on W3C/WAI and to be synchronised with the foreseen migration from WCAG1.0 to WCAG2.0. Ensuring that evaluation tools and methods developed for global monitoring or for local evaluation, are compatible and coherent among themselves (and with WAI). Provision of a strong European feedback and contribution to WAI and others for future guidelines or versions of guidelines.
For end-users - Evaluation guidelines; Evaluation checklists; User testing protocols; Automated testing; Necessary information for policy makers (e.g. for public procurement and for certification)
For evaluation tool developers - Test suites.
The methodology covers evaluations of one Web page, an entire site (irrespective of size), or multiple sites. The WAI WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 are the basis for the materials developed and cluster results will be feed back into WCAG WG.
The checklist criteria include: Specificity to Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Documentation; Tool and Browser Independence; Unique Interpretability; Repeatability; Translatability.
The methodology will investigate also issues like: Statistical methods for sampling; Critical path analysis; Computer assisted content selection; Manual content selection; User testing; Interpretation and integration/aggregation of results.
Approach of the cluster
A preliminary version of a harmonised methodology, based on the existing WCAG1.0 guidelines and current experience from partners recently involved in national experiments, is to be available soon. The development of the methodology will then follow 2 iterations, involving evaluations with:
- potential users of the methodology (e.g. Web site developers, accessibility experts);
- users of websites (including people with disabilities) to cross validate the checklist;
- WAI and public authorities.
The result will include an implementation with available or prototype tools, to allow a clear demonstration to the users. Quality of the methodology, including its validation, participation of relevant stakeholders, support from and possible endorsement by or inclusion of comments from W3C/WAI, will be essential for a subsequent European-wide acceptation. When possible work for the cluster will be closely coordinated or take place inside WAI Working Groups (e.g. WCAG WG, ERT and EOWG).
The coordination of the Cluster is provided by Eric Velleman, from Bartimeus Accessibility Foundation in the Netherlands and a Cluster Board constituted by the 3 project leaders and co-ordinators in close relation to the EC.