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Recommendations for continuing work

White paper: conducting user evaluations with people with disabilities

There are four main areas that need to be addressed in the near and longer term future.

Going beyond user testing

Human Ability and Accessibility Center
One near term implementation objective is the potential to extend the considerations taken for people with disabilities to other evaluation methods, besides just user testing sessions. Much of the information contained in this white paper on interacting with PwD is transferable to other methodology such as focus groups or interviews, but further attention should be given to evaluating these other methodology to understand where accessibility and users with disabilities should best be integrated. Likewise, an effort needs to be made to educate the User Experience community further and in a timely manner on the work collected in this white paper.

Access to internal expertise

Another near term implementation objective should be the creation of a central location for holding information about internal organization experts. While this white paper is a very good starting point for getting to grips with many of the issues involved in running user sessions with PwD, there is no substitute for real experience. It would be beneficial for someone who is planning to run such a session for the first time to have the opportunity to have access to the very best quality advice. One way of achieving this would be to have a Web site or a database of people from within your organization who have experience running such sessions, complete with their bios and contact details, which a first-timer can consult.

One-stop shop data repository

In the longer term, it is recommended that a repository be developed to store all of the results from user evaluation sessions with people with disabilities conducted across the organization. This database will have standard forms to add the results of user sessions, information about the participants, as well as what was learned from a process standpoint, outlining the "Dos and Don'ts" for others to use as they prepare their own user sessions. Information should also be categorized by best practice for user evaluations with particular groups of disabilities, e.g. best practices learned for evaluations with low vision users. This repository will help measure the number of user sessions being held with users with disabilities as well as the potential pitfalls that need to be considered when preparing these sessions.

A moderator should be assigned to this database to closely monitor and summarize the information being added as well as pull out commonalities across findings and ensure they are easily visible and reach the extended user-centered design community. As a document repository, this vehicle should also store examples of useful documents such as specialized screener questionnaires and e-mail invitations as well as other common forms, and work published by research and development. A more comprehensive list of recruiting resources and links to organizations for PwD should also be included to assist user-centered design practitioners overcome the biggest potential barrier to conducting these sessions.

A certain amount of resource will need to be spent educating the organization on the existence of this repository and ensuring it is closely integrated with the user-centered design and accessibility communities. As a discussion database, members of these communities will be able to post questions and receive answers from other experts across the corporation. Finally, this information will be easily searchable with multiple views to facilitate mining by all interested parties including sales and marketing.

Recruiting PwD for user evaluation studies

Further work needs to be done in the area of recruiting PwD for user evaluation studies. Current screening processes need to be investigated to determine how best to integrate users with disabilities. Recruiting may well be the biggest barrier to conducting any user session, especially with PwD. Further work needs to be done to gather and share recruiting resources including an emphasis on corporate wide relationships with organizations for the disabled that participants can then be drawn from. It would be interesting to know what percentage of customers have disabilities and what those groups are to help us focus our recruiting efforts. It would also be beneficial to concentrate on including more PwD in our Beta programs so accessibility and users with disabilities are integrated in the Beta cycle.

Another possible candidate for further work is the area of cognitive and learning disabled users as well as the elderly. Certain groups such as blind and low vision users have been focused on heavily across the organization while other disabilities have not received as much attention. This is true for many reasons, but work should be done to ensure other disability groups are further involved in usability sessions and product design to ensure a sufficiently broad scope of participants.