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RE: International Web Access Guidelines “Ineffective”, PhD thesis Claims

From: Steve Green <steve.green@testpartners.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 2013 23:27:26 +0000
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <6BDDA23E03987E4C90F4F8B4127D3B7A149F59C8@THHSLE14MBX1.hslive.net>
People with disabilities are obviously affected by general usability issues, but conducting user testing with PWD is not an efficient way to address the issue. In general it is more costly and logistically more difficult to conduct user testing with PWD than it is for fully-able users, and also it is more difficult to interpret the results because there are more factors involved.

Whether it is a new build or an audit of an existing website (as all those in the study were) it is most efficient to conduct user testing with fully able people, fix any issues arising from that and then conduct user testing with PWD. Further efficiency can be obtained by conducting a WCAG audit and expert review and fixing any non-compliances before conducting the user testing.

This approach ensures that fewer issues occur during user testing with PWD, so it is easier to accurately diagnose them. It also minimises the frustration that occurs when nothing appears to work, which can bias the participants' behaviour.

It is worth bearing in mind that user testing only assesses the usability and accessibility of the selected scenarios and the paths the participants choose to take through the website. For this reason it is essential to conduct WCAG audits and expert reviews that methodically go through the whole website (or as much as is practical). This is why I believe the study's conclusion is incorrect.

Steve Green

-----Original Message-----
From: Alastair Campbell [mailto:alastc@gmail.com] 
Sent: 03 June 2013 00:02
To: Gregg Vanderheiden
Cc: Jorge Fernandes; WAI Interest Group
Subject: Re: International Web Access Guidelines “Ineffective”, PhD thesis Claims

I'm in a privileged position of seeing the results of both WCAG2 based audits and usability testing with people who have disabilities.
Sometimes even on the same site!

I concur with Steve's assessment of the research (again from a very quick skim), and Greg's points, we tend to use testing with people to prioritise what matters in the site's context, and an audit to get the technical picture of the site.

When doing that sort of research it is easy to be critical of WCAG, however, the real question is how you prevent usability / accessibility issues in the first place.

If you use a design process that results in a usable site (often a UCD process), then WCAG can be used for what it was intended to be - a technical, minimum set of guidelines.

I wouldn't fault WCAG for focusing on aspects that only affect PWD, but everyone needs to understand that there is a venn diagram of issues that affect PWD, and a big circle of that is general usability issues.

-Alastair
Received on Sunday, 2 June 2013 23:27:50 UTC

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