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