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Web Site Monitoring and Web Accessibility

Over the years, governments around the world have enacted laws, regulations, policies, directives, and procurement standards which all relate to web accessibility. Examples include the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977, the American with Disabilities (ADA) Section 508, and the British Disability Discrimination Act to name a few. The overarching goal is to make goods and service, including web sites, more accessible to people with disabilities.

Actions for non-compliance range from nothing, to lawsuits, to being barred from government procurements depending on the specific government standards. For example, in American government procurement official cannot make purchasing decisions without ADA Section 508 consideration.

Aside from the possible procurements and legal woes, it is always a good idea to make your site accessible to as broad an audience as possible and as compliant to HTML standards as possible.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) views Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Priority 1 (also referred to as A) compliance as the minimum standard all web sites must meet. Sites should be compliant with WCAG Priority 2 (also referred to as AA) standards, and sites may be compliant with Priority 3 (also referred to as AAA) standards. The increase in priority levels ensures additional persons with disabilities can correctly view your site. At a minimum all websites should pass Priority 1 validation testing to be compliant.

I decided to take a look at our sector, web site and email monitoring, to see how it met with United States standards. To test Priority 1 compliance, W3C HTML and Watchfire WebXACT validation tools were run against some of the highly ranked Google sites for the term "web site monitoring". The results were shocking to say the least.

Website Web Content Accessibility Guildelines - Priority 1 W3C Validation
1st Warning 2 errors 52 errors
AlertBot 2 errors 157 errors
Alertra Compliant Compliant
AlertSite 2 errors 52 errors
Dot-com Monitor 1 error 219 errors
HostTracker Redirect error 12 errors
InternetSeer 1 error 113 errors
Internetvista 1 error 26 errors
KillerSites 1 error 3 errors
Opentracker 1 error 79 errors
Pingdom Compliant 11 errors
SiteRecon Compliant Compliant
Siteuptime 1 error 26 errors
WatchMouse 1 error 139 errors
Webmetrics Complaint 18 errors
WebSitePulse 1 error Compliant

(Click on the blue links to see individual results)

Alerta and SiteRecon were the only two companies that passed home page Watchfire WebXACT Priority 1 and W3C HTML validation tests. Alerta, SiteRecon, and WebSitePulse were the only three companies that passed home page W3C HTML validation tests.

Clearly the web site monitoring sector has some work to do. If your website does business with companies or government agencies that have web accessibility requirements, you may want to check your own site. While tweaking code to conform is not always easy, your site will be better prepared to compete and reach everyone. After all, the goal of all webmasters should be to reach as many people as possible.

About the Author

Lew Newlin is CTO of Information Solutions, Inc. that operates SiteRecon specializes in email monitoring and web site monitoring for Internet service providers and businesses.

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