Stephen Fry is backing a fantastic, new development that has made the reporting of inaccessible websites a simple, one click process. The Fix the Web project is harnessing volunteer energy to tackle reports of web accessibility problems. Disabled people can now report sites to volunteers using a toolbar, called the ATBar, developed by researchers from the School of Electronics and Computer Science(i), University of Southampton.
Recently launched, Fix the Web is already making great progress addressing websites that are inaccessible for disabled and older users. There is an impressive groundswell of support for the campaign, with 388 reported sites and 296 volunteers, 20 sites are already fixed and many more are in progress. Where sites do not get fixed, the project at least aims to significantly raise awareness of the issues, focused on change in the long term.
The process for a disabled person to report an inaccessible site is very simple, taking less than a minute. Quick to set up from www.fixtheweb.net/toolbar the ATBar has a 'Fix the Web' button that launches a report form. Volunteers then take the reports through a checking process and send them on to website owners, with information about web accessibility. Ingeniously designed, the ATBar also incorporates text-resize, Text to Speech, style and reference setting buttons.
Stephen Fry comments:
“We all expect a few glitches when we go on line, but when it comes to accessibility for disabled and older people, the problem is colossal. Fix the Web is doing something about it in a positive and practical way – I urge you to get involved and help get this problem fixed. Fix the Web gets to the very heart of the problem – it’s pure genius!”
The development team of Sebastian Skuse, Dr Mike Wald and E.A. Draffan from the Learning Societies Lab at Southampton (1), are official partners of Fix the Web led by Citizens Online (3) and funded by the Nominet Trust (4). Fix the Web is proud to is working in partnership with AbilityNet (5), Bloor Research (6), Hanona (7) and Nomensa (8).
The idea of the toolbar has also been supported by JISC-funded OSS Watch who provide advice on the use, development, and licensing of free source software. The team aim to build a community around the project and take it forward through their recently awarded JISC REALISE project. Over the last six months there have been over 3 million 'toolbar hits' on the ATBar.
There are a number of other easy options for website reporting to Fix the Web: through a form on the site: www.fixtheweb.net, via twitter (#fixtheweb #fail, url and the problem) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org though the toolbar is likely to be the fastest option.
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Notes for Editors
- With around 500 researchers, and 900 undergraduate students, the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton is one of the world's largest and most successful integrated research groupings, covering Computer Science, Software Engineering, Electronics, Electrical Engineering, and IT in Organisations. ECS has unrivalled depth and breadth of expertise in world-leading research, new developments and their applications.
- The Learning Societies Lab (LSL) is a multidisciplinary research group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton. The LSL brings together perspectives from computer science, psychology, education and the social sciences, and develops leading-edge technologies and applies them to enhancing formal and informal learning in personal and collaborative settings. www.lsl.ecs.soton.ac.uk
- Citizens Online is a national charity that believes participation in the digital world is a basic human right. As a result it is committed to promoting digital inclusion. It is their aim to ensure that the benefits of digital technologies can be enjoyed and shared by everybody, so that our society may become more inclusive and just. www.citizensonline.org.uk
- Nominet Trust is a charity launched in 2008 to mobilise the internet for social good. To the majority of Internet users, the name Nominet remains largely unknown, but for millions of website owners in the UK, Nominet provides registration and administration support for their .uk domains. For Nominet Trust – the organisation’s charitable arm – it’s the users that are the primary focus, and the Trust funds in distinctive and innovative IT-related projects that make a difference to people's lives, particularly in the areas of web access, education and safety. The Trust also supports projects that use the internet imaginatively to address specific social problems. Almost ten million people in the UK have never been online and four million of those are amongst the country's most socially excluded. So the people who have the most to gain from the Internet - whether to overcome isolation, to save money or to find help - are the ones who are missing out. Nominet Trust seeks to redress these imbalances by funding projects that give people the skills and tools to be online safely and responsibly. www.nominettrust.org.uk
- AbilityNet is a registered national charity (charity no. 1067673) with over 20 years experience helping people adapt and adjust their information and communications technology (ICT). Their work is unique, working across the UK and beyond. Their special expertise is ensuring that whatever an individual’s age, health condition, disability or situation they find exactly the right way to adapt or adjust their ICT to make it easier to use.
- Bloor Research is one of Europe's leading IT research, analysis and consultancy organisations. Working to bring greater agility to corporate IT systems through the effective governance, management and leverage of Information, Bloor Research has built a reputation for 'telling the right story' with independent, intelligent, well-articulated communications content and publications.
- Hanona is a group of specialists in web accessibility and digital inclusion. www.hanona.org
- Nomensa is a digital agency, which specialises in perfecting online user experience, web accessibility and web design. Nomensa delivers compelling user experience research and design services that improve how people use the web and digital technologies