University of Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 7052-7061
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.1654
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Currently, the World Wide Web (the Web) is present in all areas of our lives. The Web has firmly entered in our everyday life and has changed our way of making shopping, managing business, accessing to e-government services, having education, enjoying entertainment, and so on.

According to the first ever “World report on disability”, published jointly by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, approximately 15% of the world’s population has a disability, of whom 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. Although not all types of disabilities have an impact when surfing the Web, the total number of users who can suffer web accessibility problems is huge. Moreover, the prevalence of disability is growing due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic diseases. For instance, according to the United Nations, by 2050, the population of 65 years and older will be 17%, compared to 9% in 2019. In addition, all people will have temporary or situational disabilities at one time or another in their lives. Therefore, making websites accessible for all people with disabilities is critical.

The Web has a huge potential to transform the lives of people with disabilities, allowing them independent access to information and services, in many cases, for the first time in their lives. But, if websites are badly designed and developed, the potential of the Web vanishes, and the Web becomes just another field of exclusion.

To support the accessibility of websites, different accessibility guidelines and standards have been introduced for the last 20 years. In 1999, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), a project leaded by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0. These guidelines were slowly accepted as the definitive guidelines on creating accessible websites in many countries around the world. From then, other incarnations of these guidelines have been published: WCAG 2.0 in 2008, WCAG 2.1 in 2018, and WCAG 2.2 is expected to be published in 2022.

Unfortunately, web developers often lack sufficient knowledge and probably the desire to adhere to these guidelines. This situation reflects into the websites these web developers create and maintain. For example, The WebAIM Million, an annual accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 home pages, detected that a whopping 97.4% of home pages had WCAG 2 failures in the last study published in April 2021. In another study by the Baymard Institute, 94% of 33 top-grossing e-commerce sites did not conform with WCAG 2.1 AA.

In order to minimize or even solve this situation, the teaching of web accessibility should be a standard part of curricula related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) at higher education. Nevertheless, many ICT-related curricula do not address accessibility as a core topic yet.

In this paper, a comparative study of how web accessibility is taught at different higher education institutions around the world is presented. By combining literature review and manual search and inspection of the curricula of different degrees and courses, we offer insights on what has been done and what is still needed in this area to support accessibility teaching. Our findings show that the topic of accessibility is covered in different ways and with different levels of depth, what generates different levels of competence in accessibility in the future ICT professionals.
Web accessibility, curriculum, disability, internet.