Accessible and usable websites can greatly enhance and facilitate accessing the WWW for all Web users. Accessible websites refer to sites that can be accessed and reached by everyone regardless of any condition they might have. Usable websites refers to sites that are convenient, easy for people to use and of high quality. A major issue nowadays is to encourage web developers and designers to follow the guidelines available to ensure accessibility and usability. The question is to what extent should web developers depend on the guidelines to assure that their websites are accessible and usable?

User evaluations to a set of mobile phones companies’ websites were conducted with disabled and non disabled participants in order to investigate the validity and coverage of the guidelines for accessibility and usability. The data collected from users during the evaluations was also used to discuss further hypotheses throughout the study.

Overall, the main outcome from this study shows that the severity ratings provided by the accessibility and usability guidelines are not valid: although researchers and participants agree each other both within and between groups, there is no agreement with the guidelines’ ratings of severity. In addition, the guidelines coverage was shown to be unreliable to cover most of the participants’ encountered problems.

Full Thesis:
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Thesis Advisor:
Helen Petrie

Award Date:
September 1, 2006

The University of York
York, UK

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