[LINK] ABC Mobile Web Site Failed Accessibility Test

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue Mar 17 08:55:35 EST 2009


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation launched "ABC Mobile" 
yesterday <http://m.abc.net.au/>. Unfortunately the home page does 
not appear to have been designed in accordance with guidelines for 
web accessibility for the disabled and may be unlawful 
<http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/www_3/www_3.html>. 
The ABC advertises for staff who have a knowledge of web 
accessibility and web standards and so would know its obligations 
<http://www.abc.net.au/jobs/vacancies/s2278774.htm>.

The site also fails several mobile phone and other web guidelines. As 
well as the mobile phone compatible web site, there are Apple iPhone 
and Gooogle Android applications offered. However, the ABC should 
have put its resources into the basic site, rather than building nice 
to have, but non-essential features.

A test using the Test Accessibility Web tool (TAW 3.0 3/16/09 10:15 
PM) against the WAI guidelines (W3C Recommendation 5 May 1999) 
reported: 1 Priority 1, 14 Priority 2 and 1 Priority 3 problems with 
the page <http://www.tawdis.net/taw3/online>. The Priority 1 problem 
is the most serious. The ABC has not included usable alternative text 
for the main navigation menu of the site. As an example, "Weather" is 
displayed as an image with no text saying "Weather" for those who 
cannot see the image. Instead the word "image" has been used for all 
the menu items, making the web site substantially inaccessible to 
those with vision impairment.

The W3C mobileOK Checker gave the home page of the new site 79/100 on 
mobile compatible tests. This would be a good result for an ordinary 
web site but is poor for a site specifically designed for mobile 
phones. The web page is designed for smart phones with large screens 
(about 3 inches and QVGA resolution) and would be difficult to use on 
an ordinary mobile phone. The page is 38KB: 9KB for the text and 29KB 
of images, which is too "heavy" for a mobile (W3C recommend 20 
kbytes). There are 15 files required to be downloaded (the HTML and 
14 images), whereas W3C recommends a maximum of 10. There are 
numerous errors reported with the HTML coding of the web site 
<http://validator.w3.org/mobile/check?docAddr=http%3A%2F%2Fm.abc.net.au%2F&async=true&view=cat>.

With its mobile service the ABC had the opportunity to not only 
provide a general news and entertainment service but one which would 
be of use in emergencies, such as bushfire and floods. However by not 
correctly designing the service the ABC has limited its usefulness.

Currently I am teaching mobile and accessible web design to second 
year and postgraduate students at The Australian National University 
in the course "Networked Information Systems" (COMP2410).  The ABC 
home page would not be of an acceptable standard for student work on 
this course <http://studyat.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP2410;details.html>.



Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  



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