Web Accessibility Standards as Organizational Innovations: An Empirical Analysis in a Developing Country Context

18 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2017 Last revised: 16 Aug 2017

Krishna Jayakar

Pennsylvania State University

Zhiwei Tang


Huiping Zhang


Yang Bai

Pennsylvania State University, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Students

Date Written: March 31, 2017


This paper is an investigation of the factors influencing the adoption of web accessibility (WCAG 2.0) guidelines by local government websites in China. Using Berry’s (1994) theoretical model of organizational innovation, the paper examines whether factors such as slack time and resource availability, organizational size, leadership, and the presence of external stakeholders influence the adoption of web accessibility guidelines, utilizing an econometric methodology. The study has implications not only for e-government and information access for persons with disabilities in a developing country context, but also more generally to organizational innovation and learning.

The WCAG 2.0 Guidelines are a globally recognized standard regarding information accessibility of websites. It has been adopted by governments around the world, including the United States, to improve information access to persons with disabilities (Li, Yen, Lu & Lin, 2012). Scholars have evaluated the compliance of government websites with the standard (Hanson & Richards, 2013), barriers to adoption (Velleman, Nahuis & van der Geest, 2017; Youngblood, 2014), and the consequences of adoption for factors such as trust in government (Singh, Naz & Belwar, 2010; OECD, 2013).

However, few studies have examined web accessibility standards adoption in a developing country; the few that do are largely exploratory studies that investigate the status of standards adoption by local governments, with less attention to the factors that promote or hinder adoption (Rau, Zhou, Sun, & Zhong, 2016; Shi, 2007; Zhao, Marghitu, & Mou, 2017). But studying these factors are all the more important in developing countries where local governments have access to fewer resources, the legal standards for web accessibility are less well-defined, and external stakeholders such as disability advocates are less well-organized. Adoption rates are therefore likely to be more variable, and the influence of predictors more uncertain.

In this context, this paper evaluates the accessibility of a randomly selected sample of municipal government websites using AChecker, an automated testing tool widely adopted by researchers in e-government and e-commerce (Fuglerud & Røssvoll, 2012; Gilbertson & Machin, 2012), supplemented by manual checking. Specifically, the number of violations of the WCAG 2.0 standard are compiled for each website. Econometric analysis is used to identify the factors from Berry’s (1994) model of organizational innovation that predict the adoption of web accessibility standards — the managerial characteristics of the local government (budgets, leadership, number of e-services offered) and the demographic and economic characteristics of the local jurisdiction. In conclusion, the study offers recommendations to promote successful adoption of web accessibility standards by local governments.


Berry, F. S. (1994). Innovation in public management: The adoption of strategic planning. Public Administration Review, 54(4): 322- 330.

Fuglerud, K. S., & Røssvoll, T. H. (2012). An evaluation of web-based voting usability and accessibility. Universal Access in the Information Society, 11(4), 359–373.

Gilbertson, T. D., & Machin, C. H. C. (2012). Guidelines, icons and marketable skills: An accessibility evaluation of 100 web development company homepages. Proceedings of the International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility (W4A '12) (pp. 4). New York, NY, USA: ACM.

Hanson, V. L., & Richards, J. T. (2013). Progress on website accessibility? ACM Transactions on the Web (TWEB), 7(1), 1-30.

Li, S., Yen, D. C., Lu, W., & Lin, T. (2012). Migrating from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0 – A
comparative study based on web content accessibility guidelines in Taiwan. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1), 87-96.

Organization for Economic and Co-operation and Development (2015). Government at a glance. OECD iLibrary. Retrieved from http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/government-

Rau, P. P., Zhou, L., Sun, N., & Zhong, R. (2016). Evaluation of web accessibility in China: changes from 2009 to 2013. Universal Access to the Information Society, 15(2), 297.

Shi, Y. (2007). The accessibility of Chinese local government Web sites: An exploratory study. Government Information Quarterly 24(2):377–403.

Singh, G., Pathak, R. D., Naz, R., & Belwal, R. (2010). E-governance for improved public sector service delivery in India, Ethiopia and Fiji. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 23(3), 254-275.

Velleman, E. M., Nahuis, I., & van der Geest, T. (2017). Factors explaining adoption and implementation processes for web accessibility standards within eGovernment systems and organizations. Universal Access in the Information Society, 16(1), 173-190.

Youngblood, N. E. (2014). Revisiting Alabama state website accessibility. Government Information Quarterly, 31(3), 476 - 487.

Zhao, C., Marghitu, D., & Mou, L. (2017). An exploratory study of the accessibility of Chinese provincial government and postsecondary institution websites. Seattle, WA: DO-IT Program, University of Washington. Available at http://www.washington.edu/doit/exploratory-study-accessibility-chinese-provincial-government-and-postsecondary-institution-websites

Keywords: web accessibility, e-government, disabilities, WCAG

Suggested Citation

Jayakar, Krishna and Tang, Zhiwei and Zhang, Huiping and Bai, Yang, Web Accessibility Standards as Organizational Innovations: An Empirical Analysis in a Developing Country Context (March 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944366

Krishna Jayakar (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

Zhiwei Tang

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Huiping Zhang

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Yang Bai

Pennsylvania State University, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Students ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views