Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Reed College of Media


Reed College of Media

Committee Chair

Ralph Hanson.


Recently, several major corporations have been sued because their websites are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. For a website to be accessible, people with disabilities should be able to navigate and interact with the site. Individuals who are blind or have vision impairments have difficulty accessing websites because they commonly use assistive technology to interpret content. This study is the first comprehensive study assessing the accessibility of WVU websites for individuals with disabilities, specifically individuals with visual impairments and comparing those results to those of two comparable universities in other areas of the country. Compliance with specifications of website accessibility is an important goal for any state university and is also required by law. WVU websites and those of other universities' were measured using the WAB Score. The WAB Score consists of 25 checkpoints that are based on WCAG accessibility standards. The higher the WAB Score, the more accessibility barriers that exist. A score of zero indicates that the website does not have any violations while a WAB Score of 5.5 serves as the threshold between accessible and inaccessible. WVU websites had a mean WAB Score that was accessible by .07 points, but specific sites and departments had severely inaccessible websites. The websites at WVU that were particularly inaccessible to individuals with visual impairments consisted of flashy design elements and graphics. The high and low priority violations that were found on WVU websites are mostly items that would take little time to correct. All universities should use this process to assess their current level of accessibility and locate the specific areas of their websites that are particularly inaccessible. Future research should take a qualitative approach and explore the knowledge web designers have about accessibility through one on one interviews and surveys. A future study might also concentrate on the idea of a link between "catchy", complex website design and inaccessibility.