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Power, A. Freire, H. Petrie, and D. Qiu, Y. Rizzardini, V. Alternative text that describes what is on the screen for a certain image or something like that. The idea is that automated accessibility inspections…the software tool is actually the weakest. However, they scale really well. You can have a tool spider through your whole website. You could have it examine 10, web pages. Automated tools are good at giving you the overall picture of how your website is doing and what types of flaws occur most often.

A lot of times the automated tools will either give you information that can be misleading. Or, it may give you results that you have to interpret.

Research Profiles

Really, you want some mix of automated review, expert inspection and usability testing. Of course what combination you use and how much depends on the timeline for your project. It depends on the budget for your project. It depends on how you will be able to influence the design. Sarah: Thanks, Jonathan, for that very clear and thorough exposition of those three methods.

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Like time, resources and numbers of people available to do usability testing, for example. A couple questions come to mind. One is, who should be asking these questions about what needs to be done and when? How can, particularly user experience designers know when and what to do? What tools to use and add these tools into their tool sets for making decisions about design and integrating these research questions into the process of designing and building. Jonathan: User experience professionals are really in the right situation to be able to have an impact. User experience professionals really need to advocate for accessibility.

Accessibility happens as a group effort. If you think about like in a university, you have to have a number of different people involved. You need to have any people who are involved with diversity. You need to have the provost involved. The user experience professionals have an advocacy role to get out there and inform people about technology accessibility. We have these technical standards. Guess what we can do related to accessibility.

Accessibility Research Methods with Jonathan Lazar - Rosenfeld Media

Yeah, there might be some accessibility features hidden away somewhere, that you have to look and search for. Think about the airlines. Sarah: Right, but I guess my initial question would be, are they doing those assessments to begin with? Are there numbers to report on? Then they would have numbers to share. Jonathan: You read my mind, because that was the next thing I was going to talk about.

Why do they often not report statistics? What we need is to get companies to follow the lead of the Justice Department, in saying that, and admitting that. Well, we need to start making some improvements. As you know, because you were there, I recently attended the Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology, which you co-direct. It was a really great conference, and I was delighted to be able to participate.

I was so struck by the insights that were shared at that conference, from the research community and the scholarly community, primarily. People who are looking really deeply into accessibility are in one place, and the people who are trying to provide accessibility are in another. There is a big gap, in between. You work with researchers and you work with practitioners, and have found a way to bridge that gap. Jonathan: My approach is simply that I talk with everyone.

If a group wants to have me present, if there are some people I want to do outreach to, I just go talk with them. We want to do it this way. I say, the world is messy. Yes, it may not be a neat study that you can publish in a certain journal. But the reality it, what could be better than actually influencing either practitioners in UX, or developers, or policy-makers. The first step is simply to engage, and to talk. The next step is to find out, what do you need?


What information do you need, and in what format do you need it? Because, if you present to different communities, if you present to all these different people I talk with, researchers and practitioners, they all have different needs. We talk about user-centered design, you need to understand the user needs. For instance, policy-makers are very interested in year-after-year studies. Our goal next year is 75 percent. We have to figure out, what do other communities need? When I present to practitioners, I always make sure to give lots of examples, and be very specific about policies.

What, specifically, is the law? Is it a federal law?

Is it a state law? What does it cover? What type of compliance mechanisms are in place? What format do they need things in?

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  • Practitioner’s Take Away?

What are their questions? The world is messy. Yes, we have to get out of our university and engage with the world. The students are working with Baltimore County Public Library, to evaluate the services that the Baltimore County Public Library offers for people who are blind or low-vision. I could be wrong.

It may not work out well. But that depends partially on the amount of work you put into it. We have to get out there in the world, and see what real challenges people face. What are the real challenges with the technologies we build? How do we tweak the technologies? Where are there problems in our technologies?

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