The Accessibility Foundation
The Accessibility Foundation is market leader in accessibility in the Netherlands. In Europe, we are an important provider of expertise in the accessibility domain and active in many European and local projects. We research, test and develop accessibility solutions. We provide support, recommendations and inspection of websites for businesses, (local) governments and other organizations. Through our work in W3C and the EU we are actively setting the standards that shape accessibility. We cooperate with (inter)national stakeholders and leading European partners. As lead coordinator of the EU eAccessplus network we participate in relevant working groups at national and international level.
The mission of the Accessibility Foundation is to improve the accessibility of internet and other digital media for all people, including the elderly and people with disabilities. The Foundation was established in 2001 and has about 20 people working in their office in Utrecht.
Accessibility has an independent board but is closely related to its founding father: the Bartiméus Institute for the blind in the Netherlands (2500 employees at 17 locations and more than five schools). Where Bartiméus has a focus on the blind and partially sighted people, we focus on technology for all people with disabilities and elderly.
Accessibility evaluates the accessibility and quality of more than 250 websites of larger Dutch companies and governments including ABN Amro and other banks, Dutch Tax Services (including software research), ministries and major cities, The Dutch Royal Family website, Dutch Railways (NS), and many educational institutes.
Since 2004 we anually evaluate a selection of Dutch government websites on accessibility, in cooperation with disability organisations. In 2011 the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations asked us to investigate the accessibility of all 418 Municipalities (Accessibility Monitor 2011). The results were (again) disappointing: 92% failed the minimum level of accessibility.
Development of webstandards and regulations
Accessibility manages many projects related to normalisation and regulation of guidelines for quality and accessibility of the Web. Among these are the normative document for the Quality Mark Drempelvrij.nl and the Web Guidelines for the Dutch Government. We initiated the quality mark Drempelvrij.nl and currently advise the Normative Committee and act as chairman of the Committee of Inspection Organizations.
Specialized usability research with disabled people
We have done extensive research into user profiling for GIS implementations together with Wolters-Kluwer and Cap Gemini. Together with the University of Twente and other stakeholders, we developed a usability lab and testing protocols for specialized usability testing by users with disabilities. This lab performed user testing on government websites, public transport websites and the UPC digital tv platform.
Center of expertise
We provide certified trainings on webaccessibility and related subjects like search engine optimization and content management. Our trainings are available for a broad selection of internet professionals like Web developers, content managers, multimedia designers, project managers and policy makers.
We have extensive expertise in evaluating and benchmarking the accessibility of educational software and E-learning and we set up guidelines for the accessibility of educational software for partially sighted students. These standards are accepted by all of the Dutch institutes and are also implemented within the guidelines for accessible educational software for special needs, in the Netherlands and Belgium. We test educational software and publish the results in an interactive online database for use by target groups. The database is also implemented in the educational software database for Dutch and Belgian mainstream education.
Creating awareness is an important task for Accessibility Foundation. In the past we published several books and brochures on accessibility, we recently organised the first dutch National Congress on web accessibility. We are a member of AllesToegankelijk ("all accessible"), a group of Dutch organizations, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Health, that bring together entrepreneurs and people with disabilities to significantly increase the accessibility of goods and services.
Accessibility of mobile apps, games and digital tv
Together with Universities and University colleges we work on accessibility of games and digital tv. Accessibility has co-produced accessible games, information on game design principles, total immersion, user preferences, rfid for user profiling, location information systems and soundmenus. The results of our research can be seen in real working games (proof of concept) like Drive (audio racing game), Demor (3D audio game), Audio Game Maker (software), Hoorspelmachine (Radio play software), Submarine (one switch game) and a growing number of smartphone apps. We are currently working on accessibility of digital tv, apps for iPhone and android, and on touchscreen interfaces. Here, technical research and user testing with people with disabilities coincide.
Accessibility Foundation is lead coordinator of the web accessibility domain of the EU European eAccessplus Network. In that role, we are responsible for European harmonization and outreach of Web Accessibility. We cooperate with more than 24 leading European partners including the Fraunhofer institute, AAATE, EDF, Tingtun, University of Linz and many others.
Harmonized evaluation methodology for WCAG2.0
Within the EU WAI-ACT project we facilitate the W3C Evaluation Taskforce and work on an official harmonized Evaluation Methodology for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. The output of this group is used as input for the Mandate 376 phase 2 work to support harmonized implementation of accessibility guidelines throughout Europe.
CEN specification for Web Accessibility
We co-drafted the European CEN specification for a Web Accessibility Conformity Assessment Scheme and a Web Accessibility Quality Mark. As Accessibility Foundation is the only European testing organization that is conformant with the full requirements of CEN CWA 15554, Accessibility has participated as 1 of 5 experts for the CEN Project Team on EU Mandate 376: European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain.
Furthermore Accessibility co-drafted the extensive overview of accessibility related policies in Europe for the Support-EAM project and continues to support W3C related work in this field.
Unified Web Evaluation Methodology
We have coordinated the EU Web Accessibility Benchmarking Cluster, a cluster of 24 European organizations in 3 EU-projects, working on a harmonized European Evaluation Methodology (UWEM). UWEM and related products from the Cluster are powerful tools in the domain of accessibility. UWEM is mentioned in many official Member states documents.
Accessibility is also active in the accessibility of touch screen ATM and general information kiosks for blind and partially sighted. Together with organisations for the disabled we produced a solution for the accessibility of touchscreens. This solution enables blind people to operate touchscreens and at the same time facilitate companies to add accessibility to their kiosks.
Return on Investment of Webrichtlijnen
In commission of ECP-EPN, Platform for the Information Society, the University of Twente conducted a study on the potential costs and benefits of implementation of the Webrichtlijnen for non-governmental organizations, like businesses, corporations, not-for-profit and charity organizations, and other private parties. The Webrichtlijnen are compulsory for Dutch governmental organisations. Although the impression in the market exists that implementing guidelines have a positive effect on different indicators of cost and benefit, it is not possible to make any financial or economic conclusions, due to the lack of hard evidence of effects of implementation of guidelines. Read the management summary of Cost Benefit Study of Applying Accessibility Guidelines to Websites.
Most of our website is in Dutch. For more information about our work, please contact our english speaking staff:
Phone: +31 30 239 82 70