Date of Award:

5-2011

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Dr. J. Nicholls Eastmond

Abstract

The Internet is an integral part of higher education today. Students, faculty, and staff must have access to the institutional web for essential activities. For persons with disabilities, the web is a double-edged sword. While an accessibly designed website can mitigate or remove barriers, an inaccessible one can make access impossible. If websites that provide necessary information are not accessible, those with disabilities will be unable to independently complete their daily tasks or compete in the modern world.

Project GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning through Self-Study) has developed a document outlining a set of four institutional indicators of Web accessibility. Postsecondary institutions can use this document in their efforts to ensure that online content is accessible to all users.

This dissertation evaluated the social validity of the document to determine if it was appropriate, understandable, usable, and satisfactory to provide a framework for implementing and promoting institution-wide web accessibility across a variety of demographic markers including job type (administrator, faculty, and technology specialist) and institution type (2- and 4-year).

Ninety-seven participants reviewed the document and completed an online survey. All four indicators with their subsequent benchmarks were found to be "good" or "very good" based on the evaluation criteria. Administrators rated the document somewhat lower than faculty or technology specialists. Participants from 2-year schools consistently rated the document higher than their 4-year counterparts. In general, the longer participants had been in their positions, the less favorably they rated the document.

The median ratings for all questions of appropriateness, understandability, usefulness, and satisfaction were a 6 or 7 on a 7-point scale across the board. This result would indicate that while different aspects of the indicator document may appeal to different groups, participant ratings across job and institution type show that these criteria achieve acceptable levels that validate the use of the indicators as a tool to assist institutions in their web accessibility efforts. This dissertation utilized the multiple-paper format recommended by the committee.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on May 11, 2011.

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