RNIB and AbilityNet join forces to test websites

Out-Law News | 21 Nov 2005 | 11:54 am | 1 min. read

A new service for organisations wanting to have their websites tested to ensure that they can be accessed and used by disabled internet users, as required by UK law, is being launched jointly by the charities RNIB and AbilityNet.

There are around two million people in the UK with sight problems and the Royal National Institute for the Blind's (RNIB) work on web accessibility has a high profile. But many people with other disabilities that affect their use of technology – at home, in education or in the workplace – have benefited from the work of AbilityNet. Among other activities, it supplies assistive technology and consultancy for employers on system and workstation adaptations.

RNIB's web access consultants have been carrying out accessibility audits of websites since March 2000. AbilityNet has been offering a disabled user testing service since the Disability Rights Commission's (DRC) report on web accessibility was published in April 2004, recommending the use of disabled users to test websites rather than relying on automated tests.

The charities announced "See it Right with UseAbility" today, which combines RNIB's "See it Right" expert accessibility assessment with accessibility and usability testing carried out by AbilityNet's panel of web users with a range of disabilities.

Sites which successfully pass the joint audit will be eligible to display a joint RNIB/AbilityNet "See it Right: UseAbility" logo.

Launching within the next couple of weeks, RNIB and AbilityNet are confident that the new logo will increase awareness of the issues and satisfy a growing demand for independently assessed user testing of websites as part of an accessibility audit.

Bob Niven, Chief Executive of the DRC, welcomed the initiative. "We believe the inclusion of disabled people in evaluating accessibility sets an example of good practice by recognising the value of involving the end user in determining what is or isn't an accessible website," he said.

RNIB will continue to offer the existing "See it Right" expert audit, and AbilityNet will continue to offer independent user testing of sites. However, website managers who are keen to use both of these services will no longer need to arrange each assessment separately. And if all of the recommendations from the combined assessments are implemented successfully, sites will be eligible to display the new "See it Right: UseAbility" logo.