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Does the law matter? An empirical study on the accessibility of Finnish higher education institutions' web pages.

  • Academic Journal
  • Laamanen M; Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland.
    Ladonlahti T; Faculty of Education and Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
    Puupponen H; University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
    Kärkkäinen T; Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland.
  • Universal access in the information society [Univers Access Inf Soc] 2022 Nov 14, pp. 1-17. Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Nov 14.
  • English
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) has made higher education available to many students in a new way. The role of online learning in higher education institutions (HEIs) has grown to an unprecedented scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The diversity of higher education students has increased, and accessible solutions are needed. New European and national regulations support these trends. The research reported in this paper was conducted in Finland, which is one of the leading European countries in terms of high technology and digitalisation. The aim of this research is to explore the accessibility of all Finnish HEIs' ( N  = 38) landing pages based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). The situations before and after recent legislation are compared. Previous studies have shown that HEIs' landing pages typically have many accessibility errors. Unlike previous studies, this study considered the types of accessibility errors at a detailed level to support HEIs' development and implementation of accessibility standards. A combination of two automated accessibility testing tools was used, and the performance of individual tools was analysed. The results show that HEIs' landing pages are not accessible and there are enormous differences between institutions. Two clusters of HEIs were found: one with good accessibility in terms of WCAG 2.1's four principles (perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust), and one with poor accessibility. On half of the HEIs' landing pages with poor accessibility, the number of errors increased even given the binding nature of the law. Obviously, there is still work to be done. Implications for practice are also discussed.
    Competing Interests: Conflict of interestWe have no known conflicts of interest to disclose.
    (© The Author(s) 2022.)
Additional Information
Ahead of Print
Publisher: Springer Berlin NLM ID: 101748051 Publication Model: Print-Electronic Cited Medium: Internet ISSN: 1615-5297 (Electronic) Linking ISSN: 16155289 NLM ISO Abbreviation: Univers Access Inf Soc
Original Publication: Heidelberg, Germany : Springer Berlin, ©2001-
Hum Factors. 2016 Jun;58(4):611-29. (PMID: 27044605)
High Educ (Dordr). 2022;83(6):1225-1239. (PMID: 34366440)
Keywords: Higher education; Students with special educational needs and disabilities; Web accessibility; Web accessibility evaluation tools; Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG)
Date Created: 20221121 Latest Revision: 20221122