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Analysis of the ENABLED Web Developer Survey

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Survey Analysis
    1. Responder Profile
    2. General Knowledge
    3. Training
  3. Conclusion

1. Introduction

This document presents an analysis of the results to the web-developers questionnaire made within the ENABLED project. This questionnaire aims at making a quick assessment of the awareness, knowledge and training needs of Web developers regarding accessibility issues for the visually impaired. It is composed of 11 questions regarding the respondent himself, his knowledge on web development and accessibility issues, and finally training activities received and topics covered or needed on accessibility issues.

[new window] Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia, provides a simple definition of accessibility as the usability of a computer system by people with disabilities and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) who developed the [new window] Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides accessibility guidelines for [new window] Web Content, [new window] User Agents and [new window] Authoring Tools. As we see in this definition, accessibility is in fact a subset of usability, which is defined by the ISO as the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments.

The survey was distributed through ENABLED partners and through an online version developed by NetUnion and distributed through the [new window] Health On the Net (HON) Foundation newsletter. The online survey was conducted from January 20th to February 2nd 2004-2007 . A total of 269 answers were received.

2. Survey Analysis

2.1. Respondent Profile

2.1.1. Country Repartition

269 persons answered this survey, most of them via the Internet. As shown in Figure 1 below, most of them come from Europe and Associated countries (43%) and from North America (43%).

Figure 1 - Pie chart representing the respondents' country repartition [D]

Figure 1 - Respondents' country repartition

2.1.2. Main Activities of Respondents

Respondents are mainly web developers, webmasters (29%) and from other technical fields (Web designers, website management and maintenance, other technician / developers) (11%), as shown in Figure 2. The unspecified category (29%) represents respondents that replied with a description of their website's activity, rather than their own role within the organisation. Answers received covered various types of organisations and website activities (software development companies, universities, etc.).

Figure 2 - Bar chart representing the respondents' activity [D]

Figure 2 - Respondents' activity

2.2. General Knowledge

Results of the survey shows that awareness about accessibility issues, as well as, knowledge about the accessibility enabling features of web development tools have a major impact on the widespread implementation of accessible sites.

Questions 3 to 7 of the questionnaire deal specifically with this issue:

  • Question 3: Do you make your web sites/applications accessible? If no, why?
  • Question 4: Do you make your web sites/ applications usable? If no, why?
  • Question 5: Do you use specific software for designing web sites/ applications? If yes, which one and does it generate accessible code?
  • Question 6: Which programming languages do you use?
  • Question 7: What is your programming skill level?

2.2.1. Accessibility

The survey shows the following:

  • To the question "Are you aware of WAI", 58% of respondents answered no.

  • Question 3 shows that only 36% of respondents try to make their web sites or applications accessible. Reasons cited for not making this effort could be broken down as follows: 67% cite a lack of knowledge about the WAI guidelines, and 9% a lack of technical knowledge. Note that 14% do not have time to spend on accessibility issues. As shown in Figure 3

    Figure 3 - Bar chart representing the reasons why respondents do not make their website accessible [D]

    Figure 3 - Reasons for not making accessible Web sites / applications

  • Question 4 shows that while only 36% of the respondents try to make web sites or applications accessible, a little bit more (51%) try to make them usable and, as shown in Figure 4, major part of respondents who do not cite the following reasons: do not know about usability concepts (around 77%), no time (11%) and lack of technical knowledge (6%).

    Figure 4 - Bar chart representing the reasons why respondents do not make their website usable [D]

    Figure 4 - Reasons for not making usable Web sites / applications

2.2.2. Software and Development

63% of respondents use at least one specific software for developing their web sites or applications. The most used are Dreamweaver (34%) and FrontPage (30%), as shown in Figure 5. In this figure, "Others" (16%) represents software that were cited only by one or two respondents.

Figure 5 - Bar chart representing the software used to develop the websites/applications [D]

Figure 5 - Software used for development

At the same time, respondents were asked whether the software they use generates accessible code. Answers show that depending on the software, accessibility features were not always known by users, sometimes because they come as a plug-in or because the function is hard to find.

For example, 33% of Dreamweaver users answered that this software does not generate accessible code, which is not correct (the latest versions of Dreamweaver allow developers to be prompted when inserting Web elements that may need accessibility attributes but this option is disabled in default installations) and only 43% of FrontPage users answered it could generate accessible code. This shows that even if some software include accessibility related features, they are not necessarily easy to use.

In general we see here that the lack of knowledge about WAI guidelines, usability, and the proper use of website development tools are the main barrier for people not making accessible web sites or applications.

Note however that we could say (question 7) that 41% of the respondents considers themselves having medium programming skills (medium level) and 37% declared having relatively high (good or very good) programming skills. In correlation, web developer, designers, maintainer and other technicians or developer represents approximately 39% of respondents.

From these questions, we could conclude that the main issue could be training of developers and technicians, but also training of managers and decision makers on accessibility issues.

2.3. Training

2.3.1. Training Received

Although major part of the respondents' main activity is closely link to development, only 13% received some training in accessibility or usability issues, which shows a lack in this domain. These respondents received training mostly directly on the Internet (29%) or at school (23%) as shown in Figure 6. However 74% of respondents who received training already would like to get more training in web accessibility or usability issues.

Figure 6 - Bar chart representing the type of training received [D]

Figure 6 - Training types

Most of the respondents received training in all major parts of web accessibility and usability, as shown in Figure 7, covering WAI, how to make an accessible web site, usability and how to test the accessibility of a web site.

From this part, we can already draw a first conclusion that the source of training and knowledge is rather fragmented (cf. Figure 6) and that self-training (books, Internet resources and unspecified self-training) represents the most common type of training (44%). Together with the fact that the main source for training mentioned by respondents is the Internet, it shows that creating an e-training platform could rather easily and efficiently fill in this need. Indeed, Internet or web-based training applications could easily be used for self-training, by specialised centres, user organisations or even employers and could let the users work on their own or with a trainer. Furthermore, the fact that 17% were trained by other people or through a mailing list could reinforce the need for a common knowledge base or community forum available to developers on the Internet.

2.3.2. Training Needs

Very few respondents who received training considered it sufficient or do not want to learn more (4%). 74% of respondents who did not receive any training are interested in getting trained on accessibility issues.

Figure 7 - Bar chart representing the training topics covered [D]

Figure 7 - Training topics covered

71% of respondents who received already some training would like to get trained again. 36% would like to get training on the same topics and 40% would like to receive training only in topics not covered during the first training sessions. Figure 8 shows the topics that users would like to see covered.

Whereas 39% of responders are from the United States of America, only one responder mentioned having received training on [new window] Section 508. Section 508 is an American law enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Section 508 provides also guidelines and technical standards to implement the law itself.

Figure 8 - Bar chart representing the training topics respondents would like to see covered [D]

Figure 8 - Training topics to cover

3. Conclusion

This survey allowed us to cover a wide range of users and organisations. It confirmed the fact that quite a large amount of websites is currently not accessible, mainly because website developers, maintainers, designers or managers are not aware of accessibility issues or lack the proper knowledge or training to fully use the available tools.

It also shows that people are interested in getting trained on making accessible web sites and testing their accessibility, and on WAI, even for users who already received such training before. It should also be noted the importance for user to get training regarding legal aspects, which could probably be due to the interest of managers and decision makers who represents a significant part of the respondents.

The survey also showed that 44% of respondents trained themselves using various resources and particularly on the Internet. This could be due to time and resource constraints and indicates the potential usefulness of providing a flexible e-training platform for distributing training programs on Web accessibility.

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