Sports Sites Fall Short of the End Zone When It Comes to Accessibility
American Foundation for the Blind Evaluates NFL.com, ESPN.com, and SI.com
NEW YORK (February 1, 2006)—With Super Bowl XL just a few days away, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is reporting that sporting web sites are not high scorers in the game of accessibility. After evaluating NFL.com, ESPN.com, and SI.com, AFB found that many of the sites' features were difficult, if not impossible, to navigate with a screen reader—an assistive technology product used by people who are blind to read the text on a computer screen.
"All three sites are extremely cluttered and have design problems that prevent screen reader users from easily navigating the pages," said Jay Leventhal, editor of AccessWorld®, AFB's online technology magazine. "But the good news is these sites can get back in the game and please all their fans by incorporating accessible design into their web sites."
Using a Window-Eyes screen reader—a popular and well respected access program—AFB evaluated NFL.com, ESPN.com, and SI.com for usability. Rather than focusing on every unlabeled graphic or link on the web sites, AFB looked at the sites' overall accessibility, and the ease and efficiency with which information could be found and analyzed by screen reader users.
AFB found all three sites to be difficult to navigate, but SI.com did score more points than the others in the access department because it was easier to find articles. NFL.com was found to be difficult, but possible to use for frequent site visitors with extensive knowledge of screen reader software. ESPN.com was found to be the least accessible of the three. Read a copy of the evaluation.
Making a web site user-friendly to people with vision loss isn't as hard as it sounds. With a few changes in web page design—like properly labeling forms when building web interfaces and providing descriptive alt-text for graphics—it is possible to make web sites accessible to the millions of computer users with vision loss worldwide.