Accessibility of health information on the internet to the visually impaired user

Marc Lüchtenberg, Claudia Kuhli-Hattenbach, Yesim Sinangin, Christian Ohrloff, Rainer Schalnus
Ophthalmologica. Journal International D'ophtalmologie 2008, 222 (3): 187-93

PURPOSE: Web sites containing health information should be accessible to visually impaired persons.

METHODS: 139 web sites containing medical information addressing laymen or patients were evaluated with respect to their accessibility. A quantitative checklist which is based upon the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was used.

RESULTS: Only 18% (15 sites) achieved WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) level A or AA. WAI level AA was reached by only 1% (1 site) of the web sites. None of the web sites reached level AAA; 82% of the assessed web sites offering consumer health information are not fully accessible to visually impaired persons.

CONCLUSION: The accessibility of web-based health content to visually impaired users should be improved. Health information on the web should at least meet the requirements of priority 1 (level A), preferably priority 2 (level AA) of the W3C guidelines.

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