When we conduct usability testing with People with Disabilities (PwDs), we focus primarily on those with visual difficulties.  Often times, these participants are blind and use screen readers or they use a screen magnifier such as ZoomText.

From time to time, we are asked, “Is it truly necessary to test PwDs?”  Often these well meaning individuals are wanting to rely on a code scanning tool or a human evaluation that is typically conducted by a sighted person using JAWS.

While there is value to using these techniques, it has been experience that usability testing with PwDs offers something the others do not.  The value of these tests is to uncover interaction or conceptual issues with a design.  Oftentimes these issues are related to the order of items on a page.

For example, if on a form the error messages appear at the top of the page and the cursor is brought automatically to the first field when the page reloads (whether the error is related to the first field or not).  Another example could be having a map above the list of locations in a store finder application.  The map may ask the user to “try again to narrow your search” when the results below show that a store is located close by.

While a sighted person might make note of these types of issues while conducting a human evaluation, there is a good chance they might not.  In addition, a code review may determine that there are now missing ALT tags and that the tables are readable by a screen reader.  Neither of these techniques would consistently reveal these types of interaction or conceptual issues.

Is your project team interested in having a usability test conducted with PwD to help identify conceptual or interaction issues with your software, application, or web site?  Please contact us at info at improvedusability.com.