Celebrate World Usability Day by Embracing Accessibility
by Elizabeth Neal
World Usability Day (November 10, 2011) was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in over 43 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice.
The American Foundation for the Blind wholeheartedly supports the goals of World Usability Day. Technology should be easy to use—by everybody, including people with disabilities. Technology has become the infrastructure for education, work, community building, government, transportation, finances, staying in touch, and more. When we create barriers to using technology, we are creating barriers to full participation in modern life.
As AFB plans for an overhaul of its website, we have made usability testing an early and frequent part of the process. Our usability tests always include a wide range of people, reflecting the audiences that AFB serves:
- people who are blind
- people who have low vision
- family members of people who are visually impaired
- people who are aging
- professionals in the blindness field
- members of the general public with a specific question about an eye condition, Helen Keller, accessible products, or a whole host of other concerns
It takes time and effort to recruit such a wide range of participants, but the usability tests are without fail the most valuable source of feedback on our work in progress. It's fascinating to see how real users interact with our early prototypes, and it pays off in a stronger, more successful website. (If you are interested in participating in future usability tests, please let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We encourage all companies to consider accessibility a critical facet of usability. Making your products and services accessible to people with visual impairments is not only the right thing to do, it generally improves your site or product's overall usability. Celebrate World Usability Day 2011 by including people with vision loss in your next round of usability tests!
Re: Celebrate World Usability Day by Embracing AccessibilityPosted by tbabinszki [http://evengrounds.com/blog] on 11/10/2011 at 2:41 PM
This is an excellent initiative, which I don't see at many organizations. If a company would like to have visually impaired people in a focus group, can AFB help finding volunteers?
Re: Celebrate World Usability Day by Embracing AccessibilityPosted by Liz N on 11/14/2011 at 2:00 PM
Absolutely. Send a message to email@example.com and we can talk further about your needs.
Another approach to consider is posting an announcement on AFB's community board. If you have an announcement you'd like to post about an upcoming focus group or usability test, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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