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Zara Explains: Accessibility Audit – Is User Testing Necessary?

Written by Zara Gemmell on

Accessibility Director, Zara Gemmell, talks about user testing and provides resources to explain why user testing with a range of abilities is important.

Over the past few years, our focus at HeX Productions has been accessibility.  Creating accessible websites and offering consultancy to organisations who need support to understand what is required of them from the public sector legislation.  We offer a wide range of accessibility related services and have learnt a lot from our partners at Shaw Trust Accessibility Services.

Accessibility audit and accessibility statement requirements explained

The public sector legislation deadline is fast approaching (23 Septemer 2020), which means that our most popular accessibility related service is an accessibility audit and an accompanying accessibility statement. Many organisations find this a burden, a box ticking exercise instead of thinking about the people that are affected by poor website performance. Not having the level of access that their users require to find information or services, prevents people from living an independent life.

So, if you are asked about user testing and if it’s really necessary, here is what we say. 

You can watch Alan, a blind user tester using a screen reader, walk you through an accessible website and an inaccessible website created, for demonstration purposes by HeX Productions.

We believe that user testing with a pan-disabled team it is vital.  Our hope for the future is that every website has been tested by disabled users, that every public sector body has a user group that has a wide range of impairments that can provide continuous feedback whenever a service is in production or up for review.

For the purpose of creating a statement in time for the deadline, we are happy to use the skills that we have been fortunate enough to have acquired from working with a fantastic pan-disabled team of testers at Shaw Trust Accessibility Services. This being said we still don’t have the lived experience and can only offer an insight into how people use assistive technology; we don’t have to use it day-in day-out to try and live an independent life.

User testing with our pan-disabled user testing partners

We are passionate about creating an accessible digital world for everyone, not just ticking a box to meet compliance, so yes, we do think it’s an important stage.  The Shaw Trust Accessibility Services offer an accreditation so that you can proudly display the certificate on your website to let everyone know that you have been inclusive in your methods of testing.

We have a unique partnership that offers user testing, website development support, to ensure you can meet the requirement, and an accreditation once your website has been bought up to the standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

The importance of user testing explained

Here are a few good links that talk about the importance of disabled user testing and how to run sessions in-house.  Two links are guidance from W3C who are the creators of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the other 2 come direct from the Government Digital Services (GDS) guidance.

Evidence to support the importance of disabled user testing:

I hope this helps you to learn more about the importance of user testing.  We can help you to start your organisations transformation, to become more inclusive, inside and out.  We have all of the skills in-house to guide you in the right direction and create a roadmap for change.

Drop us a message if you’d like to talk anything through.