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NCDAE: The National Center on Disability and Access to Education

Improving web accessibility in higher education
through system-wide reform

Presentation Notes
User Experience: Accessibility and Usability in Online Environment

Marsha Allen, Web Developer
Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access, Georgia Institute of Technology
Phone: 404-894-4960 (v/tty)
Fax: 404-894-9320

What will this session cover?

Presentation Handouts:
User Experience: Accessibility and Usability in Online Environment

Note: Due to confidentiality, images and videos involving subjects for the usability study cannot be posted. In these instances, a text description is provided.

But first a word from our sponsors …

(CATEA) Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

(GRADE) Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education

(ITTATC) Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center

Toll free: 866-9ITTATC or 866-948-8282 (voice/tty)

ADA & Accessible Information Technology Centers

Contact Your Regional ADA & IT Center: 800-949-4232 (v/tty)

Internet and Computer… A Way of Life

Disability and Computer Access

Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

Source: American Council on Education, 2004

Aging and T.A.B. Population

Disability Statistics

Power of the Web

" … is in its universality. Access by everyone, regardless of disability, technology, or environment is an essential, integral aspect of life." Source: Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director, Inventor of Web

Usability Exemplified …

What is Usability?

Source: Understanding Web Accessibility, S. Henry

How do you know a web site is usable?

- AND -

Source: Reddish, Creating Usable and Accessible Web Sites, 2005.

Sample Usability Concerns

FLASH … Usability of Web Sites

Source: User Interface Engineering, Inc.

Source: Elizabeth Millard, researcher and journalist

Source: Forrester Research

Source: Zona Research.

What is Accessibility?

Source: Starling Access Services, 2003

How do you know a web site is accessible?

Sample Accessibility Concerns

FLASH … Accessibility of Web Sites

Skip-Navigation Link


Practice Exercise for Images

Select the best "alt-text" for sample image:

Answer: Choice #3 or #1 are best answers because these more inform the user about the context of the image in relation to its adjacent text.

No alt-text = no understanding

Color and Contrast

Read this text against a highly-colored psychedelic background

                          examples of high contrast and low contrast text Psychedelic background as an example of a busy background which should be avoided for use in materials.

Color and Contrast

Red/Green Color Blind

 Using Vischeck Color blindness tool to show a map of the U.S. showing 10 regions of the  U.S. District Courts of Appeals identified by number and color from the Federal Courts Concepts module as seen by a user with red/green color blindness ( sure

More Than Color

Bad: Information in red is required. Push the green button to start.

Good: *Required information in red with asterisk.
Table using color to show legal citation parts (
not sure

Hearing is Seeing …

  • Screen readers
  • Get
  • Information
  • One
  • Word
  • At
  • A
  • Time
  • And By Viewing Links Or Headings In A Page.
  • Click here
  • Click here
  • Click here
  • Document
  • Here

Links: Distinct, Informative, Stand-Alone

Accessibility and Usability

Business Case for Web Access: Make/Save $$$

Business Case for Web Access: Better Usability

Where to begin with usability testing?

Framework for a Site Analysis

  1. Determine site goals and success criteria.
  2. Determine audience and how will use site.
  3. Determine and organize information topics.
  4. Analyze relevance of constraints; plan for resolution.

Considerations for Site Analysis

Quick Usability Review

Purpose of CATEA Web Usability Study (for website)

Objectives of CATEA Web Usability Study

Target Population of CATEA Web Usability Study

Framework of CATEA Web Usability Study

More Details of CATEA Web Usability Study

Tasks of CATEA Web Usability Study

  1. Examine site home page and provide insights.
  2. Explore site five minutes and share experience.
  3. Find products using Vendor Search.
  4. Find products using Keyword Search.
  5. Find products using Product Type Search.
  6. Find products using Function / Activity Search.
  7. Find particular resources.
  8. Use any search tool to find product of interest.
  9. Find contact info and submit Site Usage Survey.

Environment of Web Usability Study

- OR -

Observation of Web Usability Study: One-way mirror, two cameras

Observation of Web Usability Study: One camera

Observation of Web Usability Study: One camera

Categorization of Results of CATEA Web Usability Study

Study Excerpt 1: Homepage Orientation

Study Excerpt 1: Solutions

Before Testing: Redundant Site Navigation

After Testing: Expanded Site Navigation

Text View of Expanded Site Navigation

Study Excerpt 2: Vendor Search

Study Excerpt 2: Solutions

Before Testing: Site Map

After Testing: Web Resources

Study Excerpt 3: Vendor Search

Study Excerpt 3: Solutions

After Testing: Site Map

After Testing: Vendor Search

Research: Usability of college online applications

Source: Sharon Trerise, Accessible IT Coordinator, Northeast ADA & IT Center, Cornell University,

Research: Factors aiding ease of web use by users with disabilities

Research: Usability Issues in Web for Disability

Top 5 Most Useful Features in Web Site

Source: User Vision, user experience consultancy,

More tips and features to increase usability:

For equations, formulas, and math/science/music notations, provide descriptive text indicating case and position of each part.

Source: Mechanical Engineering Course,

Provide audio and transcript to supplement content.

Source: Mechanical Engineering Course,

Writing for Web

Interface Design

Navigation Design


Reach for Holy Grail: Universal Web Design

Source: Dan Fruchterman, "Engineer's Focus: Accessible Technology for All"

Challenge To You …

Questions and Comments?

Marsha Allen, Web Manager
Elizabeth Bryant, Project Director II
Robert Todd, Research Scientist II
Phone: 404-894-4960 (v/tty)

Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access (CATEA)
Georgia Tech, College of Architecture
490 Tenth Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318

Resources for Usability: