Conversation with SiteMorse at AccessifyForum

May 9, 2006

Topics: Accessibility, News, Usability.

SiteMorse, for those of you who may not know, is a high-profile accessibility testing company based in the United Kingdom. They are well-known for the practice of releasing their "Rankings League Tables," which list the tested accessibility of government, banking, and other websites each month.

Their particularly product is entirely automated – and has, therefore, been attacked quite heavily in the world of accessibility auditors and consultants.

At the moment, there is a very interesting conversation going on at
Accessify Forum
which is primarily a question and answer session between Grant Broome, a well-reputed accessibility consultant working with CDSM Interactive Solutions and Jon Ribbens, a director of the company which develops the SiteMorse product.

I will disclose, to start, the fact that I was already in the anti-SiteMorse camp before reading this interview. However, to date the Q & A session has done little to change my views. It’s my feeling that Jon has done little but attempt to avoid Grant’s question. With repeated accusations about vagueness and the irrelevance of Grant’s questions and points, Jon has done little to impress me with his company’s dedication to accessibility issues.

The core issue is whether automated testing can possibly fully address the accessibility of a website. I and many other accessibility consultants believe, quite strongly, that it’s simply not possible to judge a website entirely based on automated judgements. An automated tool can be helpful for resolving specific issues – but should NEVER be substituted for a human appraisal of accessibility.

Regardless, this conversation has already been quite interesting, and is worth following.

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2 Comments to “Conversation with SiteMorse at AccessifyForum”

  1. Not sure I’d say this is an “ongoing” issue — personally, I haven’t followed any conversations concerning SiteMorse in any way for the last year and a half.

    At this point, I can say that yes, SiteMorse definitely says explicitly on their website that points should be reviewed manually; I can’t speak to what you may have said 18 months ago.

    This is the problem with bringing up issues from older posts, you understand — opinions change, stances change. I’m not going to get involved in a discussion on this at this point; I don’t remember the situation well enough to make it worth anybody’s while.

  2. hmmm, this seems to be an ongoing issue – simply put SiteMorse has never said automated testing is the only answer, you can not check a website completely – solely using either automated or manual testing.