Evaluating Web Accessibility of University Web Sites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

By Mukhtar M. Rana, Mohammed Fakrudeen and Uzma Rana.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the current age of information and communication technology, a university website plays
a pivotal role as information portal not only for the prospective and current students and staff but also
for the general public at a national and international level. It is therefore crucial for a university
website to be accessible at all levels. Those that are not accessible may exclude people with disabilities
from participation in educational, social and professional activities. We have evaluated the web accessibility
of 25 universities’ websites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Multi-method analysis was
performed. Each website was analyzed for compliance with the World Wide Web consortium accessibility
standards with respect to image and alternative text, alternative-language, and text only contents.
A qualitative approach was also used to test the accessibility issues and to study the Human-Computer
Interaction (HCI) of the websites. Research was carried out by accessing the websites using assistive
technologies such as JAWS and Supernova. The research revealed that 80% of universities have low
accessibility standards and could not achieve minimum A conformance. In addition, it is also found
that web designers, developers and policy makers in the KSA do not have any awareness about website
accessibility standards and their importance. It is therefore necessary to raise awareness about the
web accessibility standards by introducing accessibility courses and conducting seminars in the universities.

Keywords: Web Accessibility, Evaluation Tools, Disabled and Disadvantage Students, University Websites, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.062MB).

Dr. Mukhtar M. Rana

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Hail, Hail City, Hail, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Mukhtar Masood Rana is pioneer and project leader of the SWANS (Semantic Web Accessibility Network Services) a research project. He has completed his PhD in 2008 and started to work as a visiting lecturer & researcher in Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. In 2009, he joined as an Assistant Professor in the University of Hail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2003, he started to work as a volunteer tutor in Cambridge Online Pathways Project and became interested to explore assistive technology in depth for the people who have visual impairment to resolve their difficulties to use Internet and computers. In 2005, he has submitted a research project with the name of SWANS to the University in collaboration with Cambridge On-line Pathways. Along with these organizations he has been involved to raise awareness of how the use of computers could enhance the confidence and independence of disabled or disadvantaged people and help them to explore new opportunities for education, employment and leisure using Assistive Technologies. His research interests are Web Services, Semantic Web and Cloud Computing Framework for visually impaired people to transform their lives. He has more than 20 publications in peer reviewed international journal and conference proceedings. In 2007, on his research achievements, High Commission of Pakistan, United Kingdom awarded Dr. Wali Mohammad research award-2007.

Mohammed Fakrudeen

Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Hail, Hail, Hail, Saudi Arabia

Mohammed Fakrudeen is a lecturer in the University of Hail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He worked as senior consultant in Software Development Company having headquarters in USA. He also worked as lecturer in various colleges in UAE and Qatar. He is holding Master degrees in Computer Applications and Environmental Sciences. In 2006, he has completed his research on “Image Fragmentation Technique” and secured his Master of Philosophy degree in Computer Science. His research interests include Web Services and Web Accessibility for special persons.

Dr. Uzma Rana

Research Scientist, Material Science, IBM, York Town Height, New York, USA

Dr. Uzma Rana is currently working as a research scientist in IBM, New York, USA. She has completed her PhD degree in 2008 from the University of Cambridge, UK. Her main research interests are Nan-technology and device fabrication. In addition to this, she is also passionate about the accessibility matters of disabled people and has contributed in the area of assistive technology, web accessibility to raise awareness and to address the issues faced by these people.


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