Museums and the Web 2005
Sessions: Abstracts
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Speakers from around the world present their latest work at MW2005.

The Accessibility Of Museum Web Sites: Results From An English Audit And International Comparisons

Marcus Weisen, Council for Museums, Libraries and Archives, United Kingdom
Neil King, City University London, United Kingdom
Helen Petrie, City University London, United Kingdom

Session: Accessibility

Museums, like many other organizations, now use the Web to interact with their audiences. Thus the accessibility of museum Web sites is as important as the accessibility of their premises and services. This paper presents the results of an audit of 125 museum Web sites, 100 in England and a group of 25 museums from around the world as a comparison group. The technical accessibility of the Web sites was assessed against the WCAG1 checkpoints using the accessibility tool WebXM. In addition, the extent to which disabled people could use the Web sites was assessed by a panel of 15 people with disabilities (5 blind people, 5 partially sighted people and 5 people with dyslexia) who undertook two simple tasks on each Web site and rated the site on a number of dimensions. The results of the automated testing showed that only 30% of English museum Web sites and 20% of the international group could meet even the most basic accessibility criteria. The user testing showed that disabled people could successfully complete very basic tasks on the Web sites only 76.2% of the time and got lost on over one third of the sites. However, further analyses showed that these problems were originating from a relatively small number of accessibility issues that are not especially complex to address.