Conducting Usability Testing
Conducting usability testing
This is the single most critical aspect of ensuring your software or Website is accessible. Developers can test applications on their own by trying to navigate the application either only by ear or by only using a keyboard. This allows you to notice what the screen reader will pick up or skip over. More important, however, is real-world usability testing. While regulations and checklists provide good guidance, soliciting feedback from visually impaired or otherwise disabled users is critical, as they will be more familiar with what works and what doesn't in a real-world situation.
Benefits of providing IT accessibility
While non-federally funded companies aren't legally required to create accessible Websites or applications, doing so is becoming a common practice that not only can avert risk but also have great rewards for today's organizations.
Some large companies have already faced legal action for not taking accessibility into account. In 2006, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) filed a class action lawsuit against Target, the national retail chain, for offering online-only discounts through its non-508-compliant Website. Its Website had been noticeably less accessible to the blind and visually impaired than its brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, after two years of litigation, Target settled and was ordered to work with the NFB to make its Website accessible.
In addition to avoiding a negative and potentially damaging lawsuit, companies that ensure accessibility in their software applications or their online presence stand to gain market share by reaching new audiences. The disabled community is a significant market. According to the National Organization on Disability, disabled adults control more than $3 trillion in discretionary income worldwide and this number is expected to increase.
The disabled community is also very loyal and tends to support and evangelize companies that provide equal access, resulting in a significant opportunity for organizations to extend their brands while gaining and retaining customers.
Michelle Bagur is a Senior Developer at EffectiveUI where she specializes in accessibility in Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). Michelle began her programming career in the gaming industry in Dallas and later moved to Denver to develop medical simulators utilizing haptic devices and advanced three-dimensional technology. Michelle earned her Master's degree in Integrated Science (a combination of computer science, physics and biology) from the University of Colorado at Denver before moving into the world of RIA development. She particularly enjoys the synthesis of technologies and platforms that RIA development encourages. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.