While user testing is not a necessary element of a web accessibility audit, it can still be of value. This is because user testing can provide useful information about the usability of web content that an expert accessibility auditor may not discover through a technical audit.
Going back to the “Curb Cut” discussion introduced in the section Why Learn about Web Accessibility Auditing?, user testing with people with disabilities is a good way to identify usability issues in general, that affect all users. Issues are typically “amplified” for people with disabilities, making them easier to identify than might be the case with other users who may work around usability issues.
There are a variety of ways to approach user testing, ranging from having colleagues with disabilities provide feedback on web content to highly controlled scientific studies that recruit randomly sampled control and experimental groups, exposing them to content that is and is not accessible to study the difference in their behaviour.
While we will not address testing at the level of scientific studies, this unit will look at the benefits and challenges associated with user testing, and provide some guidelines to help you design user testing scenarios that provide useful feedback on accessible designs without incurring extensive additional costs.