The Importance of User Testing for Accessibility
As ludicrous as it sounds often accessible design is created, without consulting disabled people. Moreover, frequently; accessibility is neglected in the design process, these seem like flawed realities considering one quarter of New Zealand’s population has accessibility needs.
Considering a disabled person’s perspective, just as Attitude Television did when they designed their latest website, is crucial for any and all design; because it creates a better product for everybody to experience and use.
Here are three ways you can start implementing accessibility - and incorporate a disabled persons perspective; into your design:
Look in your networks: If one-in-four New Zealanders are disabled, then, in your daily life you would have met and known someone with a disability, reach out to them and ask them for their perspective. When you ask for a disabled person’s perspective - make sure you value their time and expertise - it can be as simple as buying them a coffee while they chat to you. In a world which so often devalues disabled people, it is crucial to value their perspectives in your design process; this means that if you are an established business, or have budget; pay us. If not, as I said, a flat white may suffice.
Listen: When getting a disabled person’s perspective, make space for it - and listen. Don’t try and defend the lack of accessibility that may be brought up - or talk over the disabled person with things you heard, just listen to the disabled persons perspective and then respond; if they’re taking time to speak with you, take on board what they say - the only way to get better, is to get user feedback.
Start with what you can do: accessibility is not about redesigning, overhauling or scrapping a product or service - and you may not have budget or connections in the disability space - but great news! You can still do accessible activities. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Mailchimp all have the ability to add alt-text to images so screen reader users can have imagery described to them via voice-over - and their are reports online; The Purple Pound, RoD and Roberta Francis’ Thesis; are just a few that you can read for free to begin getting an understanding of disability. There’s something everyone can do at every stage.
When we consider disabled people’s perspectives, we build a better product or service and we are valuing disabled people, acknowledging them as consumers and participants. This is exactly what they deserve.
Good luck with your design process, place accessibility front of mind..