Journal article

Implementing recommendations from web accessibility guidelines : would they also provide benefits to nondisabled users

OBJECTIVE:We examined the consequences of implementing Web accessibility guidelines for nondisabled users. BACKGROUND:Although there are Web accessibility guidelines for people with disabilities available, they are rarely used in practice, partly due to the fact that practitioners believe that such guidelines provide no benefits, or even have negative consequences, for nondisabled people, who represent the main user group of Web sites. Despite these concerns, there is a lack of empirical research on the effects of current Web accessibility guidelines on nondisabled users. METHOD:Sixty-one nondisabled participants used one of three Web sites differing in levels of accessibility (high, low, and very low). Accessibility levels were determined by following established Web accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0). A broad methodological approach was used, including performance measures (e.g., task completion time) and user ratings (e.g., perceived usability). RESULTS:A high level of Web accessibility led to better performance (i.e., task completion time and task completion rate) than low or very low accessibility. Likewise, high Web accessibility improved user ratings (i.e., perceived usability, aesthetics, workload, and trustworthiness) compared to low or very low Web accessibility. There was no difference between the very low and low Web accessibility conditions for any of the outcome measures. CONCLUSION:Contrary to some concerns in the literature and among practitioners, high conformance with Web accessibility guidelines may provide benefits to users without disabilities. APPLICATION:The findings may encourage more practitioners to implement WCAG 2.0 for the benefit of users with disabilities and nondisabled users.


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