Day 82: Testing with Users with Disabilities

Today’s study session led me back to usability testing. This seems to be critical when it comes to adding it to our testing toolbox to check for usability and accessibility issues that escape conformance checks, alongside automated and manual testing tools.

Personally, this is one of the areas I struggle with implementing. I love reading about usability testing and case studies that people document, but I’ve not yet taken the opportunity to try doing this myself. Usually because it has it’s own added cost, as well as awkwardness to set up testing with a specific group of people. Maybe this will be my motivator to make some connections and start a plan to make this happen this year.

Things I accomplished

Read:

What I learned today

The guidelines are not all-inclusive. Some good accessibility techniques may not be in WCAG because:

  • It is difficult to objectively verify compliance with the technique
  • The writers of the guidelines did not recognize the need for the technique when writing the guidelines.
  • The technique was not necessary (or at least not anticipated) at the time the guidelines were written, because the technologies or circumstances that require the technique are newer than the guidelines.

Before bringing in users for testing, do some preliminary checks and fix known issues in order to better discover underlying accessibility and usability challenges that were not detectable by software or manual checks.

Including users in testing doesn’t have to be a full-blown usability study. Informal evaluations and brief interactions with feedback can be very helpful. Additionally, informal evaluations can happen throughout the product’s lifecycle, rather than formal usability studies that usually occur near the end of development. Bonus: informal interactions can help us all see the person clearer rather than a case study.

Never assume that feedback from one person with a disability speaks for all people with disabilities. A small-scale evaluation (only a few people within a study) is not enough to draw solid conclusions with statistical significance, even though valuable insight occurs. Try to include a variety of disabilities: auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual with different characteristics. If possible, include older people, as well.

Further reading