Julio Abascal

Web Accessibility and beyond in eGovernment

Does Web Accessibility ensure accessibility to Administration’s websites?

Headshot of Julio AbascalThe undeniable progress in Web Accessibility can be contrasted with the scant impact on its application to the real Web world. This problem is especially serious when the Web is the only way to obtain specific services. In some countries, fundamental procedures such as interaction with Administration, health services, or banks, can exclusively be accessed through the Web. This issue became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, when a significant sector of the population that does not have access to the Internet experienced important barriers to manage their situation. In addition to the technical problems, the digital and gender divide, which have a decisive effect on accessibility and condition the exercise of civil rights, are often disregarded by Web Accessibility studies. In this talk we will present our work on the accessibility of Administration’s websites and, in addition, we will discuss the need of considering non-technological accessibility barriers to find ways to alleviate them.

Julio Abascal, BSc in Physics (U. de Navarra, 1978), PhD in Informatics (University of the Basque Country/EHU, 1987), is a retired professor at the UPV / EHU (Spain). He co-founded and leaded the Egokituz Laboratory on Human-Computer Interaction for Special Needs (1985-2021) [https://egokituz.eus/en/].

His research focused on human-computer interaction (HCI) methods for assistive technology, digital accessibility, and assistive robotics. In 2001, he began to investigate methods and tools to improve sensory, physical and cognitive accessibility to the Web, collaborating with Myriam Arrue and later with Markel Vigo: quantitative accessibility metrics, automated accessibility assessment, adaptive accessible browsers, transcoding, etc. He has co-authored papers on various W4A conferences since 2007. He has also co-chaired several W4A events, such as the W4A’10 Web Accessibility Challenge, the W4A’11 Program, the W4A’12 General Conference, and the W4A’13 Camp.

He pioneered digital accessibility research and the application of HCI techniques to the design of accessible user interface design. Since 1990, he has been very active in supporting the European effort on accessibility research. He served as an expert, advisor, reviewer and evaluator of various EU research frameworks.

He has actively participated in the Technical Committee TC13 on Human-Computer Interaction of the International Federation for Information Processing (created by UNESCO). In 1993, he created the working group WG13.3 on “HCI and disability”, and was its first president. He is currently the Vice President of Development and Equity for TC13. He received from IFIP the following awards for his sustained activity: Silver Core (1998), IFIP TC13 Pioneer (2015) and IFIP Fellow Award (2019).