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COMparing Peer Accessibility Ratings in Evaluation (COMPARE)
Start date: Dec 31, 2016, End date: Dec 30, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Context and backgroundAccess of people with disabilities to online information and services has become a critical requirement for an inclusive society as described in the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Still, a great many digital resources are still not accessible to people with disabilities. To ensure digital inclusion it is therefore important to evaluate the accessibility of digital services.In the near future, specialised accessibility experts will no longer be in a position to meet the rising demand for accessibility evaluation services. The high demand and cross-sectoral relevance of digital accessibility makes it imperative to inject an accessibility competence into the standard IT skill set.ObjectivesTo support and build-up an accessibility competence for both skilled evaluators and non-expert IT staff, the COMPARE strategic partnership will build and test an innovative learning resource that will enable its users to look at real web content examples and related accessibility ratings by different experts / peers across Europe. This will be useful both for learning how to evaluate, and for validating one's own assessment against the judgments of peers.Number and profile of participantsThe COMPARE strategic partnership is made up of DIAS (DE), BrailleNet (FR) and Funka (SE). All three organisations have a long involvement and high expertise in the field of accessibility and in the development of tools and methodologies for accessibility evaluation. All three are important multipliers in their respective country.Description of activitiesThe partnership will develop, implement and trial a Repository of Peer Accessibility Ratings (PAR Repository) of real web content, focusing on interactive widgets that are often hard to evaluate. Other accessibility experts and organisations of people with disabilities across Europe will be involved and asked to contribute cases, assessments and user testing results.A web-based Learning and Exploration Module (LEM) will be built that lays out key accessibility requirements of interactive widgets and draws on examples from the repository for exploration.MethodologyThe approach will start by analysing current differences in accessibility evaluation across Europe and then establishing requirements for an innovative learning resource that can be deployed in existing training contexts, but also be used as part of future accessibility curricula. The concept will be validated by other accessibility experts across Europe that are future core users and contributors to the repository. The PAR repository will then be set up and populated with cases, accessibility assessments, and user testing results. The Learning and Exploration Module (LEM) will be built to interface with the repository. The COMPARE resource will then be evaluated by partners in different training contexts. Lessons learned will be used to modify the resource.ResultsThe resulting COMPARE resource will be available online under an open licence and can be used both as an Open Educational Resource (OER) and in the context of accessibility curricula.The COMPARE resource will offer a hands-on learning and exploration approach to accessibility where the focus is on real, complex web content and associated accessibility ratings. User testing results will add a third dimension. This approach is complementary to the analytic approach that starts with accessibility needs and technology-neutral requirements as expressed in the international standard, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).ImpactThe expected impact is an improvement of the accessibility evaluation competence of experts and learners across Europe. Experts will learn by comparing the different assessments of peers which will validate their own judgments. A number of VET providers as well as the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) will be involved and are expected to use the resource in their training activities. In addition, standards bodies like WAI / W3C will benefit because they can use real COMPARE content examples and assessments to validate test procedures and techniques that are developed as informative resources within WCAG.Longer term benefitsThe COMPARE resource is expected to be a highly valuable resource that can help evaluators in their life-long learning task of keeping their accessibility expertise current. It will also demonstrate and evaluate an innovative approach for linking sequential instruction modules like LEM to a constantly updated resource base.

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