Is Your Website Accessible to People with Disabilities?

UserZoom has recently partnered with a new panel supplier called AccessWorks that offers people with disabilities who will test your website using the think-out-loud methodology. AccessWorks is maintained by Knowbility, Inc., a nonprofit advocate for people with disabilities and industry leader in accessible technology.

The AccessWorks panel includes people who are blind or have low vision, physical/motor impairments, hearing impairments, and/or cognitive impairments. People use a variety of assistive technologies, including screen readers, screen magnification software, alternative input devices, keyboard only, and others.

“Accessibility is not enough” – Jacob Nielsen

By including users with disabilities in your testing, you will learn a lot about your site, plus you will know that you are helping to ensure access for all people, regardless of their ability. Usability testing with people with disabilities might be a bit scary at first but we’re here to help.

Setting Up An AccessWorks Study in UserZoom

Setting up a study using AccessWorks participants is very like any other UserZoom study, with a few caveats.

First you need to consider what disabilities to include. The web is inherently visual so you probably want to have some participants with visual disabilities – blind, low vision, color blind, etc. And because websites require user interaction in the form of linking, scrolling, and filling in forms, you will want to include some people who have difficulty with fine motor control and/or those who cannot use a mouse or other input device who will use your site, including all navigation and form entry using only their keyboard.

Other disabilities you might want to consider are hearing impaired, especially if your site uses audio, and cognitive impairments that can tax perception and short-term memory.

Like other usability tests, a good rule of thumb is to have 5 – 8 users per group, in this case a group being a disability or type of assistive technology, whichever is more meaningful to your site and tasks. And then, of course, you’ll want to make sure the participants are representative of your users in terms of skills, experience, and demographics.

Another thing we recommend prior to doing a usability test with people with disabilities is to do a basic accessibility audit of your website. Some things, like having text alternatives for images, using headings to structure pages, and having sufficient contrast, are easy to detect and easy to fix.

For example, you don’t need to have 5 usability participants point out that your “buy now” button is an image without alternative text that cannot be read by a screen reader. An excellent source of several accessibility “easy checks” can be found here.

Interested in recruiting through AccessWorks?

If you’re a UserZoom client, please contact your CSM to learn more!

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