I recently wrote a blog 'Fix The Web Campaign for reporting web accessibility issues' that describes a new method for reporting web accessibility issues on any site.
It lead me to think that a good website owner would not want to get problems reported in this way, but would rather they were reported directly to the webmaster of the site. However, my experience of trying to report problems back to a web site have ranged from the impossible (no contact details at all) to the cumbersome (find a feedback mechanism then try and describe the problem adequately so someone can fix it). This level of difficulty is why Fix the Web has been set up, people with disabilities, who find using the web a challenge, have found it too much effort trying to report anything.
What is needed is a very simple method that enables a user to report the problem and then carry on with what they were doing. My suggestion is the following:
- The footer of each page includes an accessibility and a feedback link.
- Clicking on the accessibility link will tell the user that a new window is opening. Having it as a separate window means that when they have finished reporting the issue they can continue their real work from exactly where they were.
- The new window will say something like 'We are passionate about accessibility and we have explained below what we have done to make our site as accessible as possible. If you have found a problem we want to know so please go to our accessibility reporting form'. Hence making the reporting form easily accessible.
- When they follow the link to the reporting form it will be partly filled in with: the URL of the page they were on when they hit the accessibility link, and the environment information such as the operating system and browser being used.
- The focus will be on the problem description field which they can then fill in and the next field will be for their email address (if they want a response).
- They press submit. They are thanked for the feedback and can then close the window and carry on with using the site.
I mentioned feedback as well as accessibility at the beginning, the idea is that accessibility will be used for specifically accessibility issues and feedback will be for any other form of feedback including usability of the website. The feedback form should work in the same general way as the accessibility page.
A function like this would be proof positive that web site owner cares about accessibility and providing an excellent user experience; it will also provide good feedback about issues on the site which will be better than anything you could get from standard user testing.
I would like feedback from my readers about any improvements/additions that could be made to this process and anyone who has developed a similar system.
PS Fix the Web officially went live on Monday 15 November and includes a similar concept for reporting web site accessibility issues.