The University of Oregon provides expert accessibility evaluations as a service. UO's goal is to perform an expert evaluation of their entire digital ecosystem on an annual basis. Sites and services are reviewed on a rolling basis.
Expert evaluations are also available on request. If a person or department has already completed a self evaluation of their web presence or other technical service and wants a more in-depth review, they may request it on the Service Portal.
What is an Expert Evaluation?
An expert evaluation is a person trained in accessibility techniques and well-versed in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards going through your website or service and testing it using a combination of manual and automated testing techniques, to see if it meets WCAG criteria. They will review a representative set of pages that encompasses the entire functionality of the site. The tester may be internal or external to UO.
There is no impact to site performance or end users during the course of accessibility testing.
How to Prepare for an Evaluation?
First, relax! This isn't an examination, and you can't pass or fail. It's very common for multiple accessibility issues to be uncovered during an expert evaluation, and this is perfectly acceptable; it gives UO the opportunity to improve their web presence and make it more accessible.
The best thing to do to prepare for an expert evaluation is to complete a self evaluation. Many WCAG criteria can be understood and remedied without expert input, and the more of these that are identified and resolved ahead of time, the easier the evaluation will be for everyone involved.
What Should I Expect?
The evaluators work with you and other stakeholders on your team to come up with a timeline and plan that works for you. The general process is as follows:
- Review Discovery - Either in response to a request for a review, or when your website is up next for a regular review, someone from the ICT Accessibility Program will contact you to schedule a kickoff meeting. They will look at the site ahead of time and provide a list of pages that they believe encompasses all the representative functionality of the site. If there are any other important pages, please let them know so those pages get included in the review. If the ICT Accessibility representative contacts you and it is not a good time for an accessibility review, they will work with you to determine a time in the future that is more convenient.
- Kickoff - The ICT Accessibility Program representative and any appropriate technical and content stakeholders on your team can meet for a kickoff meeting. ICT will walk through the review process, testing methods, pages to be tested, confirm scheduling logistics, and field any questions. They will also discuss the best way to log any potential errors found, so they are in a format convenient for your team.
- Site Review - The expert tester performs the evaluation. This typically occurs ~2 weeks after the initial contact for the test, but is flexible around your needs. The evaluation itself depends on the size of the website, but commonly takes 2 days for testing and documentation. After the review is completed, you will receive a report detailing the outcome of the evaluation, and any issues found. Any errors caused by a standard University theme will be addressed by University Communications. Any content-related errors, or issues due to custom development, are yours to resolve.
- Debrief - A follow-up meeting is optional, but strongly recommended, so that you can walk through the report together, discuss any findings, prioritize follow-up action items, and ask questions. This is the best time to discuss plans and timelines for remediating any issues found during the review, ideally within 1 month.
- Remediation Support - Over the next month, or the time period determined in the post-review meeting, the evaluator will check up on any issues found on the site and verify that any accessibility issues have been resolved. They are available throughout this period to advise as requested.
The following chart demonstrates a standard timeline for a website review. This schedule is built to flexible around the needs of stakeholders, and has lag team built in. If this schedule does not work for your team, an alternate schedule can be discussed during the project kickoff.
Evaluator reviews website and creates a list of pages to manually review.
Identify stakeholders and schedule kickoff meeting.
Discuss website review process, schedules, and responsibilities for remediation
days 15 - 20
Expert evaluator performs site review, creates report and sends to site owner
Evaluator and stakeholders review the accessibility report together, prioritize issues and confirm next steps.
days 30 - 60
Website stakeholders address accessibility errors. Expert evaluator supports and verifies changes.