Advanced Internet Services and Applications – web standards and compliance Description of purpose

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Curriculum guidelines for Masters level programme in Module name


Advanced Internet Services and Applications – web standards and compliance

Description of purpose

This module introduces web accessibility to mainstream computer science students. It is based on an existing Masters programme in Media Informatics.

“How can I justify the extra cost for such a small percentage of the public?

The answer is: Google. Looking at my Web site logs, it is clear that at least half of the visitors find the sites via Google. And what Google sees is exactly what a blind person sees. Google is a blind user—a billionaire blind user, with millions of friends who listen to its every word. If a blind user can't see your site, neither can Google, and your site will suffer.”

Stephen Pemberton, Interactions vol 10:1, p44, 2003

ualifications structure and credit level

Credits:15 ECTS, Masters level

Pre-requisites: Students are expected to have pre-requisite skills, for example in: Java, XML, HTML and CSS.

Aims and objectives of module

  • To provide the student with an understanding of the social, economic, political and technological issues of web accessibility

  • To equip the student with practical problem solving skills to design and develop websites and web applications to meet current web standards (eg W3C: HTML, XHTML, CSS) and accessibility guidelines (eg WCAG 2.0)

  • To provide an understanding of the relationship of accessible tools (e.g. authoring tools and content management systems) and user agents (e.g. web browsers)

  • To provide an understanding of formats (e.g. XML, RDF and XPATH), their parsers (e.g. SAX, DOM and STAX) and techniques (e.g. JavaScript and semantic web) used in building accessible websites and web applications.

  • To demonstrate the advantages of using standards (e.g. cost and effort saving) by presenting appropriate use cases.

  • To equip the student to subsequently be able to address technical issues of the underlying structures and tools which support the development of accessible web applications

Student-centred learning outcomes

The aim of this module is to provide the student with: the technical skills and knowledge to design and develop accessible websites, technologies and applications, these techniques and technical solutions for web accessibility, include:

o Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)

o Techniques for WCAG, ATAG, and UAAG

o Evaluation and Report Language (EARL)

By taking this module the student will understand: the application of web standards and accessibility guidelines to the development process. The student learns state of the art mark-up languages used in website and application development, the related parsers and tools and how to aggregate them in a way to produce compliant and accessible results.

This module consists of: theory and current issues in web accessibility, practical design and development, and evaluation activities.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student will have the knowledge to be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of web accessibility and the role of web authoring tools, content management systems and user agents in relation to the needs of people with and without disabilities, including users of assistive technologies, ageing, people with cognitive impairments or low levels of literacy.

  • Critically examine current national, EU and international issues of eInclusion and the legal framework of web accessibility

  • Demonstrate a critical appreciation of current web standards and accessibility guidelines

On successful completion of the module the student will have the skills to be able to:

  • Apply a suitable systematic design process to the development of accessible pages, accessible features, or elements of web applications:

    • Mark-up languages and related parsers and processing tools

    • Content Management Systems

    • Semantic web technologies

    • Back-end technologies e.g. web server and middleware

    • User modeling techniques

  • Define, select and apply a suitable evaluation programme using automated and user testing, and report on the results

  • Work effectively in a small team environment to achieve team goals

Content (syllabus list)

  • Theoretical and practical knowledge:

    • Building up advanced Internet services and applications with Web Standards

    • Usable and accessible interfaces: desktop and mobile platforms

  • Manage and develop complex on-line applications

    • Workflow procedures: content creation, interface development and user testing

    • Content management systems, repositories and eb publishing frameworks

  • Competences for the business world

    • Complex Web portals

    • e-commerce applications

    • Web Services

    • Mobile devices

Methods of achieving learning outcomes

The majority of the course will consist of lectures and interactive learning sessions using real examples of good and bad practice, as well as the execution of small exercises to learn techniques and methodologies.

  • Individual and group work to assess common barriers and best practice in developments of standard based websites and applications

  • Demonstrations of tools and frameworks and practical how to’s

  • Group work to apply standards in the development of small exercises and projects.

  • Group work to conduct a final project.

Learning, teaching and assessment strategy

The students’ work should be assessable and gradable. The practical nature of this course can be assessed through the completion of 100% course work on different aspects of the development of standard based websites and applications:

  • 50% series of mini-projects and exercises during the course

  • 50% of the marks are awarded to the final project.

Sample activity

These mini- projects consist mainly of tasks targeted to read, process and write mark-up documents (e.g. XML, HTML, CSS, RDF and EARL) on the other side these tasks contain the evaluation, customization and repair of the documents as well as producing reports of the results.

Set of mini-projects, presented along the initial classes. Final marks based upon the projects

  • Groups of 2-3 students per project

  • Results presented as an Eclipse project (end of semester)

    • Development in Java

    • Combined with Open Source libraries

  • Queries via mailing list

Use of ECLIPSE IDE platform and other open source software

Use of Video clips to show how different people with disabilities use the internet

Reading Material

Caldwell, B., Cooper, M., Reid, L.R., Vanderheiden, G. (2008): Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Available from

Chisholm, W., May, M. (2008): Universal design for web applications that reach everyone. O’Reilly.

Harper, S., Yesilada, Y. (2008): Web accessibility. Springer.

Lawton Henry, S. (2007): Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design. Available online at

Lloyd, I. (2008): Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS. SITEPOINT; Edition 2 (30 Nov 2008).

Thatcher, J., Burks, M., Heilemann, C., Lawton Henry, S. (2006): Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance. Friends of ED, 2006.

Web Accessibility Initiative: This W3C website includes material which is in the process of being updated to reflect WCAG 2.0, accessibility using mobile devices, and the development of ARIA

Additional links to online resources

Opera web standards curriculum:

RNIB, see also links to Design and build accessible websites, and the Accessible website directory:

Web Accessibility In Mind: For list of blogs by accessibility experts see Webaim also provide the free accessibility tool WAVE see

Zen garden, the beauty in CSS design:

Design for All@eInclusion Curriculum Guidelines see

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