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Usability and accessibility are different lenses to assess user experience. An accessibility assessment supports evaluation of IT systems for compliance with applicable statutes and policies. For a system to truly be accessible, it must be usable for the person employing assistive technology and provide an experience comparable to a person not using assistive technology. A usability assessment will identify design issues with the user interface that could be problematic for the end-user, and in some cases, prevent access to the system’s core functionality. Completion of both an accessibility and usability assessment is essential to providing the best possible user experience.

Factors to consider when performing the accessibility assessment:

  • Methods & Procedures
  • Assessment Setup and Support
  • Reporting


Prioritization | Planning | Assessment | Remediation | Resources

Method and Procedures

Setup and Support

Facilities and Equipment
If the scope of the assessment is large and involves outside volunteers, consider creating a testing facility for the people involved in the assessment. When setting up the facility, staff should evaluate all the equipment necessary to perform the assessment.

The room(s) where the assessment will take place should be adequately equipped with all the devices that will be used to access the system being assessed. This includes desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. To support the assistive technologies that will also be employed, headsets and microphones for those devices should be installed and properly configured. In cases where testing with assistive technologies can be loud, consider using spacious areas or private rooms to allow for more efficient use of screen readers and speech recognition software. Test systems should have a variety of supported browsers as well as a variety of software tools required to support the objective of the testing cycle.

Consent Form
Have the test participants sign a standard consent form. The consent form gives the department permission to report on participants’ comments and behavior. The form also informs participants that the department plans to use their comments for internal briefings, without disclosing their personal information.

Introduction to a Testing Session
Design the introduction to provide logistical information. Ensure participants are comfortable in the designated testing area. Provide an overview of the functional test objectives and discuss the participant’s role in the assessment activities using assistive technologies. Provide opportunities and encourage the participants to ask questions on functionality if needed.

Questionnaire on Computer Use, System and Internet Experience
Prior to beginning the assessment, use a short questionnaire to assess the participant’s experience with assistive technologies, systems being assessed, computers and the Internet.

Debriefing Questions
Conduct debriefing interviews to gather information on the participant’s impression of the assessment activities. For each test cycle, include questions about the facility, equipment, coordination, instructions and proctor support. Develop unique debriefing questions to gather the participant’s personal perspectives on usability and accessibility of the department’s IT systems or websites, as applicable to the objective of the test cycle. Perform debriefing interviews in an interactive conversational style.

Metrics and Reporting