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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WADcher (Web Accessibility Directive Decision Support Environment)


It is important to realise that people with disabilities are not just a tiny minority of the population of the European Union. The lowest estimate, based on the extremes of currently defined impairment categories, puts their total number at around 44 Million persons (nearly...


It is important to realise that people with disabilities are not just a tiny minority of the population of the European Union. The lowest estimate, based on the extremes of currently defined impairment categories, puts their total number at around 44 Million persons (nearly 13% of the population of the EU). However, other estimates that take into account a) people with cognitive difficulties, and b) those people in the borderline between fully able bodied and the classically termed impaired, should considerably raise those numbers. Designing for people with disabilities is becoming an increasingly important topic for a variety of reasons, especially due to the recent legislation (European Web Accessibility Directive, WAD) published on 2 December 2016 and entered into force on 22 December 2016 in Europe promoting the rights of disabled people.

Building on ongoing efforts, WADcher will research, develop and demonstrate a decision support environment and a WAD observatory for the assessment of compliance with web accessibility recommendations and legislation (WAD), checking the coherence with the Harmonised European Accessibility Standard (EN 301 549 v2.1.2) / (W3C WCAG 2.1) to produce an advanced large scale web accessibility support environment. This will enable large organisations, SMEs or individuals (developers, designers, accessibility experts, policy makers, etc.) to produce websites and software products of superior accessibility and quality, accompanied with appropriate measures, technologies and tools to detect and formally report accessibility hurdles and assisting developers in repairing them.

The main objectives of WADcher are (1) a large scale web accessibility assessment infrastructure to interact with external web accessibility assessment tools, (2) a decision support environment to present the results of these tools to the accessibility expert and/or developer to complete the assessment work or to correct the accessibility issues, (3) an observatory to allow web commissioners to manage the web accessibility and the monitoring of the aggregated results and to create customized reports and web accessibility statements.

Work performed

In the period from January 2018 until July 2019 the WADcher project has started and the consortium worked according to the work plan by setting up the project, eliciting the user requirements, specifying the system requirements, designing an appropriate architecture, defining the internal and external APIs, designing the wireframes, starting the development of the WADcher components and preparing the pilots. Furthermore, dissemination and standardization work was actively done by participating in conferences and workshops and publishing of two scientific papers and initial exploitation and IPR work was conducted.

The following tools\' prototypes were developed so far in the WADcher project:
- A large scale web accessibility infrastructure was built and put into operation including several virtual machines with the required repositories, authentication framework and communication facilities.
- Private and public APIs, that allow smooth internal integration of WADcher components and external APIs that incorporate automatic assessment tools into the WADcher environment.
- A prototype of a decision support environment (DSE), that supports web accessibility experts in coducting the manual part of web accessibility assessment and web developers in correcting accessibility issues.
- A prototype of a web accessibility observatory, that provides web commissioner with the necessary tools to plan their work regarding web accessibility of commissioned websites.

Final results

WADcher’s expected impacts are set out in the ICT-23-2017 Call topic. WADcher is designing and prototyping an integrated platform of services based on current best-practice and user-validation pilots for easier and more cost-effective large-scale assessment of web accessibility and WAD compliance. It is a service platform with an open API, cloud-based architecture and online space, with clear quantitative indicators and measures of success, specific “Design for All” platform components, enabling automatic inclusive service description, discovery, composition, and negotiation with a multiplicity of reusable inclusive services, as well as semantic interoperability and access to service repositories for various WAD related stakeholders.
WADcher work goes beyond start of the art by conducting research in the following areas:
1. The planned WADcher prototype system has been investigated with its intended users and their requirements were specified. Then the system was architected, designed and implemented to provide public sector bodies and the various stakeholders with large-scale benchmarking, monitoring, reporting and quality assurance processes for WAD compliance, as these have evolved during the period.
2. The WADcher accessibility support and WAD monitoring platform provides customized compliance testing criteria in line with the WAD, accessibility assessment, monitoring and reporting service on websites’ compliance to the Harmonised European Accessibility Standard by integrating 3 existing Accessibility Assessment Tools (Imergo, MAUVE and WaaT), a customizable reporting system and a management tool that defines ongoing tasks and timelines for the maintenance of the websites.
3. User validation pilots have been initiated with 4 sites in Greece, Ireland, Austria and Italy.
4. Dissemination, communications and exploitation of the project’s results to maximise WADcher’s impact. Two scientific publications were released and presented on conferences.

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