Usability Testing is a Key Component to Business Success
A company providing services to any specific market will do testing with members of that demographic - so why do so few companies test their products and services with users who have disabilities?
The Center for Accessible Technology (C4AT) offers a test bank made up of individuals with disabilities. In our direct service work with clients, we have met many people with a wide range of disabilities, as well as varying technology expertise, age, ethnicity, education etc.
We recognize that these people have developed expertise in working with technology, based on their own level of technical ability and the way they accommodate their own disabilities. We have recruited users to participate in user testing so that companies, government entities and other organizations can learn how their products and services are used by people with disabilities.
Traditional user testing very rarely involves people with disabilities, or, when it does, generally a very small number of people with disabilities are involved. Generally, when a development team brings in users with disabilities, those users are often team members who have disabilities, and cannot be said to be impartial observers. Our experience has been that disability is often the last factor considered in product design, but in fact disability may be one of the most important in successfully creating products and services that are usable by the broadest spectrum of users.
We are great believers in Universal Design: design that considers the broadest spectrum of human ability, and that creates products and services that are adaptable to the widest range of abilities. Our experience is that Universal Design leads to products that are not only more broadly usable by people with disabilities, but are more user friendly to ALL users.