The main tool used by blind people to access web information is screen reader, which is capable of converting textual data into audible format. One prominent challenge they confront is that a significant amount of information is either encoded into graphics (e.g. presenting data as info; graphics) or presented in a form that heavily depends on visual structure (e.g. tables). Screen readers fail to read these kinds of information in a comprehensible manner to blind. On the other hand, when colors are used to convey information, colorblind users find it difficult to grasp it. These are consequences of the web developers not being considerate enough regarding their visually impaired users.

In the web developers’ perspective, making their web sites friendly to visually impaired people is a poorly understood field. On one side there is no source that presents the rules that need to be followed in order to make web visually impaired friendly, while on the other side there’s no tool that seamlessly integrates with the usual development toolkit that helps developers to evaluate how friendly their web sites are for visually impaired users.

Although there are recently formed legislations in many countries to promote improved web accessibility, there is no reliable tool for authorities to evaluate web sites with respect to accessibility. We implemented Web Accessibility Guide (WAG), which is a set of coherent and consistent tools that addresses the identified needs of different user groups involved. WAG uses standard guidelines formed by World Wide Web Consortium to evaluate web sites. Main component of the toolset is WAG DevKit. It analyzes all pages of a web site (either in development or already published) and highlights accessibility problems in an interface that is akin to familiar development tools. It behaves like a fully;fledged development tool by enabling developers to organize multiple web development projects while storing and displaying all relevant data in different levels of detail.

WAG Assistant directly targets visually impaired users. It integrates with the users’ web browser. When the browser navigates to a web page it tries to automatically fix the identified accessibility flaws in the page so that the visually impaired person can access the page content more easily. WAG Report serves authorities and reviewers who want to get a detailed, reliable report on the accessibility problems in a web site. WAG Community is another tool in the toolset that facilitates researchers to easily test and upload their newly discovered rules to enhance web accessibility. We expect that WAG will continuously improve with these community contributions.

Collaborated with: Faculty of Information Technology, University of Moratuwa