RE: Process/Procedure for Accessibility Testing of Software

Thanks for the kind thoughts Al. Regarding my experience with accommodations
for user testing involving people with disabilities, I note the following:

1. Usability testing methods employ several different techniques -- but the
key to all of them is direct interaction with the test participant. So,
problem number one is: Most usability companies have limited or no access to
users with disabilities. There is limited communication and/or experience in
using people with disabilities as test subjects.

2. Many usability testing and design practices require user feedback, user
interviews, user observation. Thus, usability testing labs are often set up
to record test sessions via video and audio. These labs are rarely set up to
be intrinsically accessible themselves. Labs don't accomodate wheelchairs;
computer systems don't include screen readers, magnifiers, etc...

3. Usability engineers are great "people, people". They usually understand
the natural difficulties and user needs of people without disabilities --
but their awareness of the disability cultures is weak at best, often
awkward. This is problematic in that it leads to what I call the "natural
selection process" -- they rarely, if ever, include people with disabilities
in their standard testing practices. (For those lurking, this is *not*
intended to be an absolute -- just a personal observation and opinion)

4. Awareness -- we in the disabilities communities (personal and
professional) have done little to educate the usability community. This
needs to be stepped up considerably. I believe Harvey Bingham's recent study
in this area proves this very point. I hold myself responsible because I
have been in this field for close to 10 years now. I should be doing much
more. Unfortunately, the economy demands otherwise.

But, as I noted, WebABLE, Inc., (as well as Optavia) has made it part of our
general service offerings to our clients. And, I am making it a point to
include in all my presentations, seminars, and workshops, as well as
writings. We have other plans for the near future that I believe will help
promote this very important need.

- Mike

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On
> Behalf Of Al Gilman
> Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 8:42 AM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Process/Procedure for Accessibility Testing of Software
> Wow, what a great resource Mike's reply is!
> Just one little thing.  I got lost just at the end.
> At 07:55 AM 2001-03-07 -0500, Mike Paciello wrote:
> >Kynn --
> >
> >However, the usability processes and methodologies created to perform
> >quality usability testing can be employed with/for people with
> disabilities.
> >The key is accommodatation. I have found this to be the greatest
> challenge
> >for mainstream usability companies.
> >
> Can you expand just a bit on what you mean by 'accomodation' in this
> sentence?
> What is it that the mainstream of usability skills and practice
> doesn't quite
> prepare you for in doing disability access evaluations?
> Al
> >Hope this helps.
> >
> >- Mike
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From:
> [<>mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@]On
>> Behalf Of Kynn Bartlett
>> Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 5:55 AM
>> To:
>> Subject: Process/Procedure for Accessibility Testing of Software
>> Hi folks -- anyone got any pointers to references/material on how
>> to test specific pieces of software to see if they are
>> "accessible" (for common definitions of the word)?  I need to gather
>> some things to show my QA/testing folks that they can understand.
>> --Kynn
>> --
>> Kynn Bartlett <>
>> Technical Developer Liaison
>> Reef North America
>> Tel +1 949-567-7006
>> _________________________________________
>> _________________________________________
>> <>

Received on Wednesday, 7 March 2001 09:07:53 UTC