Fix the Web
How do you think Fix the Web will fare?
It'll never work 0% [ 0 ]
It'll be brilliant 50% [ 4 ]
It could go either way / Not sure 50% [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 8
Just for fun I've put up poll about the concept
|Volunteer Pool To 'Crowd-Source' Web Accessibility
An online service helping web users with disabilities report accessibility problems by linking them with thousands of tech- savvy volunteers is to be launched later this year by digital inclusion charity Citizens Online.
A trial version of 'Fix the Web', sub-titled 'crowd-sourcing e- accessibility', was unveiled at this week's Web Accessibility London Unconference 2010 by Dr Gail Bradbrook, the charity's lead consulant.
Web users will be able to report accessibility problems directly to the service using Twitter, email or online forms. Members of a pool of registered volunteers will then take responsibility for finding the correct official path or website owner contact to lodge the complaint on the user's behalf, follow up any response and feed back to the user.
The project's initial goal is to sign up 10,000 volunteers to cover 250,000 websites a year, Bradbrook said. Eventually she hopes to sign up 1.5 million volunteers worldwide.
Research has found that people with disabilities face many access issues, but do not often complain about them, Bradbrook said. "This isn't surprising - if so much of your time has already been wasted, why would you spend further time trying to communicate with the website owner?"
Benefits of making it easier for people to complain could include greater pressure for accessibility; feedback that website owners can work with or use to justify changes; and increased knowledge and skills for volunteers, she said.
Generally, volunteers would simply be raising awareness of accessibility issues, but if some major companies repeatedly ignored requests for help the project might consider working with campaign groups to lobby for action, Bradbrook said.
One business manager present welcomed the project, saying it could save firms like his money by providing valuable user feedback. "We want to make our websites as accessible as possible to everyone, so we would put your link on all of our sites, and I don't see why anyone else wouldn't," he said.
However, a web developer delegate said he was worried that unfounded complaints passed on by volunteers with insufficient technical understanding could be used to criticise web developers unfairly.
In response, Bradbrook said volunteers would be given guidance, and the project would be monitored for potential problems. "We are not asking them to be experts in e- accessibility - just to go to the website and log the problem formally. We hope it will open up communication which can be carried on by the volunteer so that proper understanding can be reached."
Anyone interested in helping develop a trial version of the system is invited to visit: http://www.fixtheweb.net .
Will you volunteer or submit reports?
|We are not asking them to be experts in e- accessibility|
Says it all really.
driving force behind Fix the Web, really great to have all your thoughts about this project positive or otherwise.
If anyone wants to bug test it please be in touch with me, gailATcitizensonline.org.uk
Here's some key points:
- the disabled person should be able to report an issue in less than 60 seconds. Having spoken to many people I don't think folks complain "en masse" because its a hassle and you may not get a response. If all you have to do is click on a browser extension or email or tweet, you may well do it. You don't have to go hunting around a website for contact details, only to find the capture isn't accessible, etc.
-the volunteers- great if there are some e-access experts there, but given we have a whole world of techies we need to improve on this front, it seems really valuable to me to have non experts engaged- they will learn by hearing what disabled people are saying. They are there to open a door on communication. Also, in way, saying that anyone who issues a complaint about web access needs to be an expert is very restrictive. Many disabled people (new users of AT or the internet for example) may post things that aren't really issues (we are hoping to catch some of this by running reported sites through an auto checker). Surely we do want to encourage disabled people to report issues?
-the expert community- finally, the intention here is to sign post to you folks so that you can give the proper information required and, hopefully, get some business from this. The signposts I'm giving at the moment in the Dev site are below- what do you think- what else shall I include?
www.w3.org/wai - home of web accessibility guidelines
www.webaim.org - excellent resource on all things web accessibility starting from basics to very advanced – includes a mailing list where you can get further advice from the community on e-accessibility issues
www.accessify.com - another excellent resource including user forums to pick others' brains
http://abilitynet.wetpaint.com - Global Assistive Technology Encyclopaedia (GATE) wiki for info on all accessible technologies
http://www.gawds.org/ Help with finding web designers who are committed to accessible web design.
I think I'll go now and cheekily vote positively that FTW will work (I'm an optimist!) but obviously I don't know it will- it just feels really worth a try, because I don't see much movement on this subject, despite all the efforts being made. (Riga targets etc).
All the best
Fix the Web Project
Can I ask how do you plan to raise awareness among users that such a service exists?
I've been working on it with a growing number of "stakeholders" since the new year, so had good input from folks like Robin Christopherson at AbilityNet, Leonie Watson at Nomensa, Alistair at Techdis, Thalidomide Trust folks getting more involved etc.
I have a PR person working on this for the Autumn - I've put out a call to stakeholders (See newsletter below) to help with this side of things- tweeting, newsletters etc. We've been covered in a few places already. However, really keen to make sure its bug tested before we really try to drive traffic..and its important that there are more volunteers than disabled people reporting I think, when you think through the numbers. www.it4communities.org.uk is another baby that is working really well
best n thanks
Fix the Web is an innovative project to address the issue of web
accessibility for disabled people. Our aim is to make the reporting of
web access issues very simple for disabled people, with a bank of
volunteers taking issues forwards (and therefore learning useful things
You can find out more on our interim website (http://www.fixtheweb.net).
This is an update on progress and has information on how you can help.
1. Full website - this is now coded and undergoing bug testing, it
is a database driven process to support those reporting issues and those
taking them forwards with web owners. We need help with bug testing - to
check that both the processes work and that the messages we give at
different stages make sense and are the right ones. If you are willing
to look it over in the next couple of weeks, whether briefly or in
detail, please be in touch.
2. PR and Marketing - we are planning to launch the site and
project in early November. If you can help by sending messages on to
your networks, newsletters, tweeting, etc please be in touch with my
colleague Nicky Ferry (pumpkin.commsATvirgin.net) who is supported this
aspect. Nicky may well also chase you up on this too.
3. Stories and Statistics - to bring our press releases alive are
needed, facts and experiences about disabled people's good and bad
experiences online, techies positive messages about wanting to make a
difference, etc. Please let us know if you have something to share or
are willing to have quotes ascribed to you. We understand there has been
benchmarking on web accessibility, but may not have all the research to
hand- let us know what you know!
4. Logos -if you have contributed time to Fix the Web's
development (or are about to as a thorough bug-tester) and would like to
be listed as a partner, please send in a logo for the partners page.
5. Sponsorship - we are looking at a variety of means to fund the
coordination of FTW (which should be light weight once its fully off the
ground). One means is sponsorship. If you are interested, please be in
6. Browser extension - we are looking for a techie to code us a
browser extension a bit like this one
(http://www.afb.org/aap.asp?Action=Download) but compatible with a
bigger variety of browsers, let me know if you are interested.
Thanks for your support and any help you are able to offer.
Fix the Web Project
I do, however, have the following observations to make:
- Is there a danger of creating an atmosphere of "Hey, let's just build our sites the way we want and someone from that crowd will let us know if there's a problem."? I'm trying to say a lot in one sentence, but I'm sure you know what I'm trying to get at.
- It took me about five minutes to find the page where I could volunteer my services. After visiting each page on the site, I finally realised that the necessary link was on the home page. I also discovered that the 'login' link, displayed on each page, would also take me where I needed to go. Can I humbly suggest that, as per convention, it would make sense if the 'login' link also indicated something like: 'login or register'?
- I know that mention of the word CAPTCHA sends a shiver down many spines but, asking someone to type in a number that is spelled out carries its own problems. Many people suffer from dyscalculia, or number blindness, and would be unable to carry out this task. I know there's no easy solution to this problem, but believe I'm right in thinking that a simple, every-day logic question is the preferred method.
- The use of labels for form fields is to be applauded but, only as a seasoned web user did I intuitively know that the red asterisk probably meant 'This field is required'. Confirmation at the start of the form would be a bonus.
- Staying with required fields, I realise that the red asterisk is wrapped in a <span> element, which then uses the <title> attribute to indicate required fields. Presumably, this is for the benefit of screenreader users? Am I wrong, or have I read somewhere recently that screenreaders don't read out the <title> by default?
- How about a change of state using :focus and :hover for the form elements?
It's been a long, traumatic day and I'm tired so by all means, accuse me of nit-picking and shoot me down in flames on the points I've raised.
By the way, none of this has deterred me from volunteering, I just felt that these issues needed to be raised.
As I new volunteer, I wish the project all the best for the future.
|Gary Miller wrote:|
Gary having carried out literally dozens of accessibility audits in my current post and at the start I had that problem were sites were submitted for audit with little or no effort made by developers. To overcome this I introduced a pre-audit checklist covering most of the common issues and unless that was satisfied a site wouldn't be accepted for audit (which is mandatory before go-live). Not sure in the real world that attitude would be the same but it is true that many people still see accessibility as an add-on.
A few things I was thinking about last night:
1. How will volunteers be managed? For example, how do you deal with people that are perhaps rude to companies when passing on an issue and giving the initiative a bad name? How do you deal with "rogue" volunteers, people claiming to be from FixtheWeb?
2. What are the expectations of volunteers? Someone submits an issue and hasn't heard anything for weeks. Do they blame the volunteer who maybe has gone off on holiday or how do they know if the company is messing about and the volunteer just hasn't told them?
3. I still think volunteers need to be reasonably well versed in accessibility issues and don't know how you'd even begin to validate that. If they're not potentially users will submit things like "that site is broken because I can't see the top nav" only to realise that they're running something like IE4 and its a css support issue related to a dead browser - a non-savvy person wouldn't know this but still progress it accordingly.
The logo does not correctly link to Home on most pages.
What's the difference between List Report and Reports List?!
It seems to be attracting a lot of spam at present. You need to filter out the stuff that doesn't match your reporting critiera ie email subjects without URLs and tweets without #fixtheweb AND #fail.
You should have the reporting form and latest reports on the front page. The latter should have a way of taking action on one of the reports immediately.
I think you should have an optional and crowd sourced tagging of reports so you can get an idea of the most common problem types.
You need to show the status of reports
You'll need to deal with duplicate reports. It would be nice if they could be tied together and add up so the most reported issues can be found and tackled, with the metric of how important they are.
You could also have a leader board of reporters and volunteers.
Last edited by jpb on 01 Oct 2010 03:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
|I think you should have an optional and crowd sourced tagging of reports so you can get an idea of the most common problem types.|
Nice idea! That could give some really interesting results.
|How will volunteers be managed? For example, how do you deal with people that are perhaps rude to companies when passing on an issue and giving the initiative a bad name?|
Reporting needs to be standardised. How about a 'Reporting Protocol' that every volunteer needs to follow?
The WAI already has a suggested protocol for 'Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites'. This could easily be altered to fit FTW's requirements.
|How do you deal with "rogue" volunteers, people claiming to be from FixtheWeb?|
Every volunteer has a unique ID number which has to appear on each report. Companies can then refer to a web page that lists each volunteer's name and ID number?
I'm really very appreciative of all the feedback and comments, the techy ones are going on to my coders. Didn't find anything nit picky. This has most chance of succeeding if the details are ironed out
btW We were told by another e-access expert to use that particular capture regime- but I understand debates rage.
There are two site- the interim site to catch people's interest and the development site which includes the full process and messages. You haven't seen that one cos its getting bug tested but I'd love some help testing it- please email me gailATcitizensonline.org.uk
The process includes getting a ready made mail for sending or cutting and pasting into a contact form and being asked to make it polite (quite like the idea of the disabled person being "allowed" to have a bit of a rant, but that getting toned down by the volunteer.)
The reports will get run through an automated e-access checker as well as spam filter on the full site and we will file both the e-access report and the disabled persons' info. It is topped and tailed by messaged, following the WAI suggestions and also a disclaimer that not every site may be a real problem but we are doing our best to filter. Yes we will monitor both volunteers and reporters in case they are doing stuff which isn't helpful and we want to group and prioritise reports coming in more than once for same site. Drupal is handling this.
Have contacted both Helen Toolbar project and Herdict asking for partnership but not heard back- am trying currently to find a coder to help create one we can use- which works with as many browsers as possible.
Am trying to build in messaging about thinking about accessibility from the start because my understanding is:
-there is a business case for doing this
-some issues can't be retro-engineered - if you buy the wrong thing you could be lumbered.
volunteers just pick the top report off the pile when they are ready, so it shouldn't create delay due to one being on holiday. The key issue is going to balancing the number of volunteers vs disabled people reporting (think I might need 12 times the former).
I think we need to manage expectations about what the impact will be of reporting something- guess it will vary from awareness raising to getting something changed and various shades in between, with time lags etc. Again this is messaged in the development site.
Have basically agonized over manay of the points you have raised, both here and for IT4Communities. You can't make things perfectly and with people involved its bound to have the odd edgy moment.. its just a case of trying to minimise that and manage for it. I want to change this from something that you folks worry about in a small community to something everybody worries about with you folks as the experts.
Fix the Web Project
|quite like the idea of the disabled person being "allowed" to have a bit of a rant, but that getting toned down by the volunteer|
I know what you mean Gail but don't forget "normal" users have issues too.
|The reports will get run through an automated e-access checker|
...which often throw up false positives eg null alt text on images as warnings/failures. Human intervention is almost always needed.
|I think we need to manage expectations about what the impact|
Agreed, this could be crucial to its success, get off to a bad start and you may never regain confidence. I think better to start with a small group of well-versed and committed volunteers than a ream of people who aren't really sure what they're at, albeit with good intentions.
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