World Wide Web

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 61–88

Web accessibility guidelines

A lesson from the evolving Web

DOI: 10.1007/s11280-011-0130-8

Cite this article as:
Harper, S. & Chen, A.Q. World Wide Web (2012) 15: 61. doi:10.1007/s11280-011-0130-8


The World Wide Web (Web) is in constant evolutionary change. This evolution occurs along many fronts and is led by infrastructure developers, Web designers, technologists, and users. These multiple stake–holders ensure that the Web is a heterogeneous entity, not just in the nature of the content, but in the technology and agents used to deliver and render that content. It is precisely this heterogeneity which gives the Web its strength and its weakness. A weakness in technology adoption leading to an increasing disconnect between the actual user experience and the expected experience of the technology stakeholders. We are interested in the human factors surrounding the evolution of the Web interface; and believe that the wait is always too long for new accessibility recommendations, guidelines, and technology to be adopted. In this case, we describe a ten-year longitudinal study comprising approximately 6,000 home pages. From this study we conclude that as a ‘rule-of-thumb’ mainstream technology is adopted at about 15% within the first three years, incremental version releases are adopted at about 10% within the first three years. However, sites which are most popular often exhibit enhanced adoption rates of between 10 and 15% over the same period. In addition, we see that accessibility guidelines are mostly ignored with only a 10% adoption rate after more than ten years. From this we infer that, for maximum accessibility adoption, guidelines might be supported and reflected in mainstream specifications instead of remaining only as a separate document.


Web accessibility visual impairment measurement evolution 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer Science, Information Management GroupUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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