Funded PhD in Web Evaluation Orchestration [#accessibility #a11y]

Kool Aid

Time to Drink the PhD Kool-Aid?

We believe that a combinatorial approach to evaluation may be more effective than those applied by individual tools and engines. The object of this PhD project is to empirically test this belief.

Understanding website conformance to specifications, guidelines, accessibility and usability requirements is currently a  complicated – and for the most part unachievable – process. A problem amplified where human interaction is required for evaluation, or when different evaluation engines produced different results. We believe that a combinatorial approach to evaluation may be more effective than those applied by individual tools and engines.

The object of this project is to empirically test this belief by: deciding on the minimum number of pages required to fully test a website; creating a set of algorithms to orchestrate pre-existing accessibility evaluation tools over that website; facilitate interoperability between these heterogeneous engines and – in concert with human evaluation – generate a combinatorial analysis of the guideline conformance of the site providing a single homogeneous / unified evaluation report. Finally, testing this combined approach against standard measures to evaluate the validity of the outcomes.

A student suitable for the PhD should have a background in computer science, human computer interaction, human factors or the like. they should possess creative problem-solving skills and be able to interact with people for human evaluations and experimentation. However, you should also be committed to progressing your career in human factors with specific focus on web ergonomics and accessibility.

We have funded PhD opportunities – in the Web Ergonomics Laboratory – for high quality committed European students who have a relevant undergraduate degree, or postgraduate Masters degree, on our 4 year CDT Programme; Part funded (International Fees Waiver) PhD opportunities for high quality committed International students who have a relevant postgraduate Masters degree, on our 3 year PhD Programme; and 30% fee discounted PhD opportunities for high quality committed students who have a relevant postgraduate Masters degree, on our Split-Site PhD Programme – whereby the student spends most of their time at a suitable research centre (or research employer) in their home country, travelling to Manchester for set periods each year.

These opportunities will all require hard work and a dedication of time, indeed, you should think of your PhD here in Manchester as a Research post in which will normally not work less than fifty hours a week – and will often work many more.  Remember you are required to have good time management, and should have the ability to spread your energy equally through the whole project. Most reading/analysing will be done outside the normal lab day.  You may also be asked to come in early or late or at weekends for supervision or meetings — simply because most researchers work long, flexible, and irregular hours. Training will be given on research procedures, as well as equipment used within our usability testing facilities. Indeed, training given will be in all aspects of research which will lead you to the stage of reasonable research independence, an ability to consider research problems, design, execute and assess experimental programmes, formulate new hypotheses and ideas, and discuss your research with colleagues including leading scientists in the field.  It should also allow you to become highly proficient in verbal and written communication of science, have an understanding of key issues such as supervising junior staff and students, broad aspects of your field, relevant methodologies, seeking funding, publishing scientific data, and some knowledge of intellectual property, public opinion and engagement in science, careers and opportunities in science. Many of these skills will equip you well for a career in science in academia or industry, but they also transferable to many other professions, and a PhD is excellent training for many jobs/careers, not just academic science.

In the first instance email your CV/Resume with a covering letter explaining your suitability for PhD study to weo-project@cs.manchester.ac.uk

For more information on the PhD Programmes:
Doctoral Training Centre (CDT) – http://cdt.cs.manchester.ac.uk/programme/
General PhD Programmes – http://www.cs.manchester.ac.uk/phd/programmes/phd/
Split Site PhD Programmes – http://www.graduateeducation.eps.manchester.ac.uk/admin/phd/

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