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The EU Web Accessibility Benchmarking Cluster, Evaluation and benchmarking of Accessibility

A cluster of European projects to develop a harmonized European methodology for evaluation and benchmarking of websites.

UWEM1.2, European instrument for evaluation and benchmarking of websites

Accessibility checks can be carried out in different ways even if the checks are based on the same guidelines. The Unified Web Evaluation Methodology (UWEM1.2) is the result of a joint harmonization effort by 23 European organisations in three European projects combined in a cluster called the WAB Cluster. They have developed UWEM to ensure that large scale monitoring and local evaluation are compatible and coherent among themselves and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from W3C/WAI.

The UWEM methodology has already incorporated support for the migration from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0. Thus, UWEM is the ideal instrument to support evaluation, (self)certification, and benchmarking of web content in Europe and beyond. Within the WAB Cluster we are building an observatory for lare scale European evaluation and benchmarking of website accessibility. This supports large scale and local evauation.

The UWEM methodology is conformant with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and based on an interpretation of WCAG agreed among stakeholders. In this way, it can offer unprecedented guidance for evaluation and benchmarking.

Cluster summary

Development of a EU-harmonised assessment methodology for Web accessibility, based on W3C/WAI and to be synchronised with the foreseen migration from WCAG1.0 to WCAG2.0. Ensuring that evaluation tools and methods developed for global monitoring or for local evaluation, are compatible and coherent among themselves (and with WAI). Provision of a strong European feedback and contribution to WAI and others for future guidelines or versions of guidelines.

Go to the UWEM1.2 pages now (UWEM1.2 is currently the latest and stable version)

Methodology Specifications

For end-users - Evaluation guidelines; Evaluation checklists; User testing protocols; Automated testing; Necessary information for policy makers (e.g. for public procurement and for certification)
For evaluation tool developers - Test suites.

The methodology covers evaluations of one Web page, an entire site (irrespective of size), or multiple sites. The WAI WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 are the basis for the materials developed and cluster results will be feed back into WCAG WG.

The checklist criteria include: Specificity to Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Documentation; Tool and Browser Independence; Unique Interpretability; Repeatability; Translatability.

The methodology will investigate also issues like: Statistical methods for sampling; Critical path analysis; Computer assisted content selection; Manual content selection; User testing; Interpretation and integration/aggregation of results.

Approach of the cluster

A preliminary version of a harmonised methodology, based on the existing WCAG1.0 guidelines and current experience from partners recently involved in national experiments, is to be available soon. The development of the methodology will then follow 2 iterations, involving evaluations with:

The result will include an implementation with available or prototype tools, to allow a clear demonstration to the users. Quality of the methodology, including its validation, participation of relevant stakeholders, support from and possible endorsement by or inclusion of comments from W3C/WAI, will be essential for a subsequent European-wide acceptation. When possible work for the cluster will be closely coordinated or take place inside WAI Working Groups (e.g. WCAG WG, ERT and EOWG).

Contact information

The coordination of the Cluster is provided by Eric Velleman, from Bartimeus Accessibility Foundation in the Netherlands and a Cluster Board constituted by the 3 project leaders and co-ordinators in close relation to the EC.

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Go to the special Unified Web Evaluation Methodology download page and download the latest version for your tools and evaluations of websites...


January 3, 2008 (Utrecht, Netherlands) UWEM 1.2 final and stable version now online. Go to the download and information page...

December 12, 2007 (Utrecht, Netherlands) UWEM 1.2 final version will be online this month. We received over 200 comments. Check out these pages...

September 7, 2007 (Utrecht, Netherlands) UWEM 1.2 draft is online for review. Go to the UWEM1.2 introduction page for download of the draft documents for review...

July 7, 2007 (Utrecht, Netherlands) UWEM 1.1 online. Go to the UWEM1.1 introduction page for download of the documents...

May 11, 2007 (Utrecht, Netherlands) The Spanish organisation Technosite has just released the Spanish translation of UWEM1.0. This follows up on the French translation by Braillenet made last year. Technosite will use UWEM for their evaluations.

The projects in the WAB Cluster

EIAO - Preparation of a platform for a possible observatory (measurement machine with modular tests, site inventory for jurisdictions, results management and aggregation. The platform prototype, once sufficiently advanced, will provide a facility for testing aspects of the WAB Cluster methodology. More about EIAO.

SupportEAM - Proposing a certification mechanism and authority, training material and tools supporting a unified European approach to Web Accessibility evaluation. This includes third party and self-certification. More about SupportEAM. More about the CEN Workshop Agreement (on the CEN website): "Specifications for a Web Accessibility Conformity Assessment Scheme and a Web Accessibility Quality Mark".

BenToWeb - Production of test suites for evaluation tools, and evaluation modules for checkpoints difficult to automatise. Research into integration of testing modules in CMS and issues related to dynamic multiversion webpages. More about BenToWeb.

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