Performing Usability Testing
No automated evaluation tool can tell you if your site is accessible, or even compliant. Human testing is always necessary because accessibility is about the human experience. Accessibility evaluation is often limited to assessing conformance to accessibility standards, according to legal requirements or a defined business best practice. However, when the focus is only on the technical aspects of accessibility, the human interaction aspect can be lost. Many of the web page accessibility checks require human judgement and must be evaluated manually using different techniques. In some cases evaluation tools are prone to producing false or misleading results, and should not be used to determine conformance levels of accessibility.
Web accessibility evaluation tools can not determine the accessibility of Web sites, but can only assist in doing so. Usability evaluation methods can assess usable accessibility to ensure that accessibility solutions are usable by people with disabilities. Inclusion of people with disabilities in a collaborative group can contribute to a better understanding of accessibility issues within the organization. Websites often have text that is difficult to read, controls that are difficult to click, or audio and videos that are difficult to hear. Fortunately in many cases the user can customize their computer to improve the web browsing experience. This includes customization options in the operating system, in software such as web browsers and media players, and sometimes for hardware devices such as any external loud speakers or microphones. Sometimes changing the user’s web browser, using additional software or hardware, or otherwise customizing the computer can further improve the accessibility user experience.
How do people who cannot move their arms use your website? What about people who cannot see well or at all? Or people who have difficulty hearing or understanding, or have other accessibility needs? Each individual is unique. People have diverse abilities, skills, tools, preferences, and expectations that can impact how they use the Web. There are many reasons why people may be experiencing varying degrees of auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities. For instance, some may have disabilities from birth, an illness, disease, or accident, or they may develop impairments with age. Some may not consider themselves to have disabilities even if they do experience such functional limitations. As of 2012, 53% of American adults ages 65 and older use the internet or email.
Pew Research Center Report, Internet adoption and Older Adults And Internet Use: Kathryn Zickuhr and Mary Madden, JUNE 2012
Disability is part of the human condition. Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life. We must do more to break the barriers which segregate people with disabilities, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society.
Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General
ICF was officially endorsed by all 191 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States in the Fifty-fourth World Health Assembly on 22 May 2001 (resolution WHA 54.21) as the international standard to describe and measure health and disability.
International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)