Accessibility is a human right, but it is not always achieved

Achieving accessibility requires knowledge of users' abilities, users' actual needs and the factors that influence the development chain, says Juho-Pekka Mäkipää, who will publicly defend his doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa on Friday 9 December.

According to Mäkipää's doctoral dissertation, aside from the available accessibility guidelines, we need design theories that guide the design of websites, applications, user interfaces and other IT artefacts in order to make them accessible for all users.

Accessibility of information technology (IT) artefacts means that users with different abilities or disabilities can use them. However, although accessibility is a basic human right, IT artefacts are not always accessible.

– Awareness and accessibility guidelines have evolved considerably in recent years, but despite this very advanced progress, science and practice still lack a concrete theory of how to design IT artefacts that fulfil the needs of different users, says Mäkipää.

According to Mäkipää's doctoral thesis, the key determinants of accessibility knowledge are assumptions about users' abilities, users' actual needs, and factors in the development chain.

 With this knowledge, researchers can better identify factors related to users' abilities, management, development, content creation, tasks and contexts. These factors need to be addressed when designing IT artefacts for specific tasks and use contexts.

Accessibility increases user acceptance

The findings suggest that accessibility is a moderating variable between usability, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of IT artefacts. Therefore, accessibility is a key determinant of user acceptance.

IT artefacts should be viewed from the user, IT management, and developer perspectives. Each of these has an essential role and function in achieving accessibility. The study also finds that content creators play a key role in producing accessible information.

As part of the study, Mäkipää has designed online accessibility guidelines for the use of content creators.

The dissertation consists of four articles. These studies have been conducted with qualitative approaches that include a narrative literature review, a systematic literature review and a design science method comprising a participatory design and interviews.

Doctoral dissertation

Mäkipää, Juho-Pekka (2022) Towards Design Theory for Accessible IT Artefacts. Acta Wasaensia. Doctoral dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto / University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Juho-Pekka Mäkipää’s doctoral dissertation ”Towards Design Theory for Accessible IT Artefacts” will be held on Friday 9.12.2022 at noon at the auditorium Wolffat the University of Vaasa.

Docent Sari Kujala (Aalto University) will act as the opponent and Professor Tero Vartiainen as custos. The defence will be held in Finnish.

Juho-Pekka Mäkipää.

Further information

Juho-Pekka Mäkipää was born in Kuopio in 1982 and graduated from Eira High School for Adults. He completed a Master's degree in Economics and Business Administration in 2012 at the University of Vaasa. Nowadays he lives in Vaasa and works as a university lecturer at the School of Technology and Innovation at the University of Vaasa.

Mäkipää has also worked as accessibility trainer for teachers and accessibility expert in various projects through Datero since 2015. He has been the founder and managing director of Finland Japan Culture and Education since 2012.

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