Posted by: MandyS | November 17, 2011

Activity 24.4 – evaluating a webpage

This was quite an interesting exercise although I had to choose a page from the module as I no longer have access to the College of Law VLE whilst it is being updated; the OU site only provides access to the forums etc. and is not really a learning resource.

The page I chose was ‘Topic 2 – Accessibility’ mainly because it has the links to the videos.

The method I chose was the checklist from the OU knowledge network and the automated checkers contained in the Visionaustralia toolbar referred to in the checklist. I did so because I have very limited technical experience and I found the checklist covers most of the basics identified in the ‘preliminary review’ site and is fairly straightforward to follow. 

Following the checklist, this is what I found:

Does it look complicated? No, the important information is obvious and is clearly identified. The links to the videos are clearly organised and identified.

The only problem I found with the videos is that the first three link to separate pages and it is not obvious at first how to access the video, although there is a help section. There are also a variety of sources for viewing the video each stating high or low. I remember the first time I used these, I was unsure which to choose. This may be a problem for anyone with cognitive disabilities. The fourth video was much easier to use as the link takes you directly to the video to play.

The text was easy to see, even when stood back. My only issue is that I thought that black on white was to be avoided for dyslexic students. I presume there is a facility to alter the colour. The text size changed easily so there was no problem there.

The only images on the page are icons and these have a text alternative.

The videos all had audio and subtitles, although in the fourth video they were difficult to read on my screen.

There is a search tool which I presume complies. The checklist states this needs expert testing so I have no idea whether there are any accessibility issues with it.

I then downloaded the visionaustralia toolbar to check accessibility. This has a variety of functions which you can use to consider e.g. whether the images have alt text, the colour contrast, the structure, tables etc.

First of all I used the HTML quick check which revealed ‘no errors’. Pretty impressive and, of course, what I had really expected. However, nothing is perfect (not even the OU making online learning accessible website :)) so thought I would run a couple more checks. The ‘validate HTML’ reveals one error and one warning; knew it! However, my victory was short-lived as I haven’t a clue what is wrong. So much for understanding the reports… I then tried Wave. 3 errors!! I like this tool because it actually tells you where the problems are either errors or alerts. The errors relate to a broken link and form labels missing on the password etc. There are also alerts in relation to the headings, as they are not ordered correctly, and javascript (although I’m not sure what this means). I played around with some of the other tools but they didn’t reveal to me any other problems.

I then used the ‘colour content analyser’ and this suggested the page passed.

Finally, I looked at navigating the site without the mouse. I think my main problem here is my being able to navigate using only the keyboard. I am not sure I was doing everything right but I was able to navigate around using the tab etc. My main issue is that I had to go via every link, including the toolbars etc. for IE. I don’t know whether there is an easier way of doing this or whether that is how it is done. I suppose this is why the ‘preliminary review’ site suggested having someone alongside to point out any difficulties. In that respect, this may be where having a disabled person navigate the site is useful.

Overall, I think the outcome was as expected, it is largely accessible with only a few glitches. Had this been my site, it would probably be the case that I would then have to seek expert help to resolve the issues, but at least I could focus on those. This is a very worthwhile exercise in being able to select the appropriate tools for me in my context. I am sure a technical expert would be able to use something far more sophisticated but I will just stick with the basics.



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