Does Your Website Meet the Needs of Patrons with Limited Literacy, English Skills, Cultural Backgrounds or Disabilities?

The Children’s Partnership has a great set of Guidelines for Content Creation and Evaluation of websites.  You can access them online or download a pdf

These guidelines were developed as a practical tool to help people identify and develop online content that meets the needs of the 50 million Americans who, because of their limited-literacy and English skills, cultural backgrounds, or disabilities, are poorly served by online content today.

These guidelines build upon the growing consensus about how to make online information more useful and reliable, and upon criteria that make content particularly useful and relevant to underserved users. We expect them to evolve with changes in technology and the way people use the Internet.

The sites includes not just the guidelines but an online tool that walks you through the evaluation step by step

Section 1: Baseline Requirements

  • Is the author or sponsor clearly identified? Yes or No
  • Is the site related to the following subjects: education, health, housing, jobs, legal services, finances, cultural perspectives, local content, or other topics of particular interest to underserved communities? Yes or No

Section 2: Requirements for Low-Barrier Web Sites.  Each category in this section focuses on a specific characteristic that can enhance the accessibility of online content. Assign to each applicable item in this section 4, 5, or 0 points.

Literacy Level of Text -

  • Are “active” verbs used instead of “passive” verbs (for example, “The car hit the tree,” instead of “The tree was hit by the car.”)? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Are the sentences clear and short (on average not more than 15-20 words each)? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Is the text written in the simplest and most familiar words appropriate? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Does the site avoid busy or distracting graphics, animation, or audio/video content? 0 4 5 N/A

Languages(s) of Text

  • Is the text available in one or more languages in addition to English? 0 4 5 N/A

Accessibility to Individuals with Disabilities – For information on how to answer any of the questions in this section, see the Help section.

  • Are text alternatives provided for any non-text content on the page (like images, audio, or video), so that it can be changed into other forms people may need, such braille or speech? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Can all of the site’s content and functionality be accessed through a keyboard alone, without having to rely on a mouse? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Is all of the information conveyed with color also available without color? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Do the foreground and background color combinations provide sufficient contrast for those who are visually impaired or colorblind? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Does the site make explicit its adherence to the U.S. Government’s Section 508 guidelines or the Web Accessibility Initiative’s (WAI) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines? 0 4 5 N/A
  • If the site does NOT state its compliance with Section 508 or the WAI, does it make an accessibility policy available to its users? (If the site is Section 508 or WAI approved, mark N/A for this question.) 0 4 5 N/A

Cultural Focus of Content

  • Does the site reflect cultural and ethnic diversity in conveying mainstream/general content? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Is this site designed to benefit or be of use to a particular cultural or ethnic group? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Does the site indicate that it has an “authentic” connection to the community on which it focuses? 0 4 5 N/A

Cost of Access and use

  • Is the site’s content free or low cost? 0 4 5 N/A

Geographic Specificity of Content

  • Does the site provide information that is localized as much as possible at the state or preferably city/neighborhood level (for example, through the use of mapping tools)? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Is the site sponsored by a locally based organization, government agency, or business? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Does the site provide practical information for the local community (for example local job, housing, and school listings, or information about neighborhood events)? 0 4 5 N/A
  • Do members of the site’s intended audience create or contribute content to the content on the site? 0 4 5 N/A

Section 3: Requirements for High-Quality Web Sites

Section 3: Requirements for High-Quality Web Sites

Assign 3, 4, or 0 points to each applicable item marked “PRIORITY,” and 1, 2, or 0 points to each applicable item marked “DESIRABLE.”

SOURCE

Priority + 3-4 points

  • Is the author or sponsor clearly identified? 0 3 4 N/A

Desirable + 1-2 points

  • Are the credentials and backgrounds of the sponsors easy to find? 0 1 2 N/A
  • Is contact information (beyond just an e-mail address, such as phone, fax, or mailing address) easy to find? 0 1 2 N/A

PRIVACY

Priority + 3-4 points

  • If the site collects information about users, is it easy to find the Privacy Policy or “Terms of Use” statement? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Does the Privacy Policy include a statement about how personal information is handled? 0 3 4 N/A

INFORMATION QUALITY

Priority + 3-4 points

  • Is the purpose of the site and the target audience clear? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Does a scan of the site’s text show it to be generally free of grammatical and spelling errors? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is there a copyright date? Are there publication and revision dates on the articles and content? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is the information current, for example has the site been updated in the past month? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is the site objective in presenting information? If it intends to have a bias, is the bias clearly stated? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is there a clear distinction between advertising and informational content? 0 3 4 N/A

Desirable + 1-2 points

  • Is the information edited down to the appropriate length for Web use, and is the need for excessive scrolling avoided? 0 1 2 N/A

PRESENTATION

Priority + 3-4 points

  • Does the homepage appropriately indicate the site contents including the options, features available, and intended audience? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is the navigation consistent throughout the site? Are the menus clear and the section names descriptive? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is an easy-to-find site map provided on the site? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is the text a readable size and style? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Are the graphics simple and attractive without being distracting? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is there an easy way to get back to the homepage from elsewhere on the site? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Do the pages have titles? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Does the site function without requiring Flash, Javascript, or other non-HTML technologies? 0 3 4 N/A

Desirable + 1-2 points

  • Does it have an attractive overall look and well-balanced use of color? 0 1 2 N/A
  • Is there a printer-friendly option? 0 1 2 N/A

INTERACTIVITY

Priority + 3-4 points

  • Is there a way to search the site to locate information? 0   3 4 N/A
  • Does the site provide content without the need to log in or register? If registration is required for any part of the site, are the benefits of registration clearly explained? 0 3 4 N/A
  • If there are financial transactions taking place on the site, does the site specify that the information is encrypted, for example, using TLS (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Socket Layer)? 0 3 4 N/A

Desirable + 1-2 points

  • Is there a way for users to provide feedback on the site’s content, for example by leaving a comment, filling out a form, or using a rating system? 0 1 2 N/A
  • Is there a way for users to contribute to the site’s content, for example submitting articles, links, or posting to a message board? 0 1 2 N/A

TECHNICAL

Priority + 3-4 points

  • Does the site function properly in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Is the time it takes the site’s pages to load comparable to other sites on the Web? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Does the site fit within the width of your screen? 0 3 4 N/A
  • Does a scan of the site show it to be generally free of non-working links, missing graphics, “Under Construction” messages, and errors? 0 3 4 N/A

One Response to “Does Your Website Meet the Needs of Patrons with Limited Literacy, English Skills, Cultural Backgrounds or Disabilities?”

  1. Bella@Internet Marketing Says:

    Very useful tips, there are many things here which I have not even thought for in spite of being involved with the Internet for years.


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