The Web is the main tool for being able to act as citizens in the Information Society in which we are immersed. Through it you access to multiple services, yet many of these services are not accessible to everyone. The accessibility barriers affect in a higher degree to people with disabilities, but there are many other user groups at risk of exclusion. The equitable use of the Web is a right for all people. Although in many countries this right is regulated by law, the data indicate that there are many web sites and applications that are not accessible. There are important initiatives, at different levels, with the goal of designing a universal and accessible Web, but obstacles have been detected in the path to obtain this goal, which are revealed in this work. As a proposed solution to this situation, from the engineering perspective, the methodological support AWA (Accessibility for Web Applications) is presented in this thesis. AWA provides a workspace in order to include the accessibility requirement in the organizations devoted to web application development. AWA provides guidance to engineering professionals to incorporate accessibility requirements from different perspectives: (a) in organizations and businesses, integrating accessibility and quality policies, (b) in the development process following a methodological approach that provides systemization in the integration of accessibility from the outset and, finally, (c) following a User-Centered Design (UCD) approach that places the user as a the main figure and makes him/she participate in the design process. All this is considered in a framework of Inclusive Design, for contemplating the disabled users, unfavorable contexts of use, in short, keeping in mind all the existing functional diversity. As a result of applying the AWA approach the final web pages and the user interface of the application will be accessible following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Accessibility requirements have been obtained by means of an abstraction of the WCAG in the context of the software development process. Similarly, the activities of the UCD have been adapted in the development process through the integration of various accessibility mechanisms, being the result of using in a combined way a set of techniques of usability with inclusion. Different parts of the AWA methodological framework have been applied in three real scenarios: in the design and implementation of a web site using a open source Content Management System (CMS); in the development of a customizable platform for public Internet access for people with disabilities, conducted in a software development company, following an agile approach to create dynamic web pages and, finally, carrying out a proposal of integration of AWA on the Web Engineering method OOWS (Object Oriented Web Solutions) following an MDA (Model Driven Architecture) strategy.

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Thesis Advisor:
Paloma Martínez

Award Date:
March 1, 2010

Carlos III University of Madrid
Madrid, Spain

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