Submissions/Accessibility Issues at Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission

Accessibility Issues at Wikipedia

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

Eduard Klein, Anton Bolfing, Markus Riesch

E-mail address



Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

BUAS - Bern University of Applied Sciences

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

In the context of the TAO project (Third Age Online) granted by the EU, the accessibility experts of the Swiss based “Access for All” foundation [1] have completed a test report about accessibility issues [2] based on the WCAG 2.0 guidelines [3] from the W3C consortium. The report contains test results which have been recorded by a group of blind and multiply handicapped accessibility experts. Additionally, test tools and script code analyzers have been used. Recommendations are given for improving accessibility for the Wikipedia platform, which can be grouped into several categories such as platform improvements, recommendations for authors and recommendations for authoring tools. It can be assumed that the results are to a certain degree also valid for other Wikipedia instances, due to the common underlying MediaWiki platform.

Besides the classical test areas, specific deficiencies of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are discussed, based on the Web Accessibility initiative and the WAI-ARIA documents of the W3C. Moreover, suggestions are given for semantic structuring using WAI-ARIA and HTML 5 landmarks. Although several websites exist with Wikipedia accessibility issues [4] [5], to the authors’ knowledge this is the first time a systematic test based on acknowledged WCAG 2.0 guidelines along the POUR [6] principles has been carried out.

The tests have shown that the tested Wikipedia encyclopaedia is to a certain degree accessible for handicapped users based on the different quality levels defined in the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. However, there remain many restrictions and barriers for handicapped end users and authors. Consequently, there is a lot of optimization capability for authoring tools concerning aspects such as the usage of semantic structuring, systematic usage of shortcuts, correct usage of lists, usage of alternative representations and the avoidance of layout tables.

Based on the feedback of Wikimedia developers on the test report, it seems to be of advantage if these issues could be further discussed and refined by the community. Subsequently, accessibility issues could be prioritized for implementation. With a re-assessment after an implementation step possible improvements could be verified.

The goal of this presentation is not only showing the project results, but also to propel and concentrate efforts in order to make Wikipedia more accessible. ---




[4] The meta wiki:

[5] The blind wiki:



Technology and Infrastructure

Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
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  1. Anetode (talk) 09:44, 15 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Krinkle 07:06, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Léna (talk) 16:29, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Beat Estermann (talk) 23:57, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Naturally, as a totally blind person myself. Graham87 (talk) 10:00, 30 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. This is something interesting. We have recently seen a blind person who is the teacher in a blind school using wikipedia in Ml wiki. We have also have an editor in Both people has been seen in the outreach events of Indic Wiki languages in India. This could be a real take away for those peoples in India.--Rameshng (talk) 05:52, 1 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. the wub "?!" 13:47, 28 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. --GlimmerPhoenix (talk) 18:56, 28 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. RexxS (talk) 13:55, 6 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Nataev (talk) 13:31, 13 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]