Raising Awareness

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Contextual Web Accessibility - Maximizing the Benefit of Accessibility Guidelines

This page contains access to a paper on "Contextual Web Accessibility - Maximizing the Benefit of Accessibility Guidelines" which was accepted for the International Cross-Disciplinary Workshop on Web Accessibility. This workshop had the theme "Building the Mobile Web: Rediscovering Accessibility?" and was held in Edinburgh on 22-23rd May 2006.

The paper was presented by David Sloan and Brian Kelly on Tuesday, 23rd May 2006.


This paper is available from the University of Bath repository.

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Accompanying Presentation
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Citation Details

Contextual Web Accessibility - Maximizing the Benefit of Accessibility Guidelines, Sloan, D., Kelly, B., Heath, A., Petrie, H. Fraser, H. and Phipps, L. WWW 2006 Edinburgh, Scotland 22-26 May 2006. Conference Proceedings, Special Interest Tracks, Posters and Workshops (CD ROM).
Also available at <>


We argue that while work to optimize the accessibility of the World Wide Web through the publication and dissemination of a range of guidelines is of great importance, there is also the need for a more holistic approach to maximizing the role of the Web in enabling disabled people to access information, services and experiences. The persistently disappointingly low levels of usability of Web content for disabled people indicates that focusing on the adoption of accessibility guidelines by content authors, tool developers and policy makers is not sufficient for a truly inclusive Web. This approach fails to acknowledge the role of the Web as an enabler in a broader context and may stifle creative use of Web content and experiences to enhance social inclusion.

Using e-learning as an example, and describing current metadata developments, we present a framework that will guide Web authors and policy makers in addressing accessibility at a higher level, by defining the context in which a Web resource will be used and considering how best existing or new alternatives may be combined to enhance the accessibility of the information and services provided by the site in question. We demonstrate how guidelines such as those produced by the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative have a role to play within this wider context, along with metadata and user profiling initiatives.

Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.5.2 [User Interfaces - Evaluation/methodology]; K.4.2 [Social Issues - Assistive technologies for persons with disabilities]
General Terms
Measurement, Documentation, Human Factors, Standardization, Legal Aspects, Verification.
Web accessibility, people with disabilities, WAI, WCAG, guidelines, methodologies, metadata, contextual design.

Citations Of The Paper

On 19 November 2011 50 citations were found for this paper using Google Scholar


The following comments on the paper have been made:

  • "But WCAG-style checkpoints are not the only way to go. We already have a few viable competing philosophies to adopt for the future.
    Sloan, Heath, and Hamilton urge us to make the entire experience, particularly a learning experience, accessible even if it means technical violations of WCAG or the use of something like PowerPoint.
    ", Joe Clarke, 23 June 2006

Also note that a edited extract of this paper was published in E-Access Bulletin - Issue 79, July 2006.