Pre Test Interview
At the beginning of each usability session, we asked the participants a series of pre-test interview questions related to their Web development experience and their knowledge of accessibility.
Researching Web Accessibility
We recruited participants with various levels of knowledge and expertise in both accessibility and Web development. Most participants reported that they research Web accessibility often for either personal or professional interest. However, participants with less Web experience stated that they typically did not research these issues as often as the other participants.
The majority of participants indicated that the Internet was their primary research source for accessibility information. The most frequently mentioned Web sites that participants used to research accessibility are listed below.
- World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
- Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C
- Boston Information Architecture and Internet Accessibility Web site (Boston IA)
- National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
- Section 508
Some participants with a deeper professional or personal interest in accessibility reported using other resources such as books or taking college courses as their additional means of researching accessibility.
The participants also provided their opinions regarding many of the Web sites listed above. Individuals who used the Boston IA Web site spoke very positively of it, citing its simplicity as a primary value. One participant commented, "The Boston IA site is very clean, and it is nice to have examples."
Interestingly, the participants who reported using Google to research accessibility were less experienced in Web development. These individuals expressed satisfaction with being able to search using specific terms, but reported that they were often frustrated with the quality of the results their search returned. One participant stated, "Google allows me to search a variety of sites and I can type in a specific term instead of having to browse the sites, but Google often returns to many results and irrelevant details."
In regards to the WAI Web site, participants lauded its content and the information available, but expressed frustration at the difficulties they encountered when using the site both in understanding and locating relevant information. Representative comments from participants included:
- The W3C is for engineers by engineers. It tries to cover everything in one explanation and definition, it leaps directly into information. The information is there, you just have to dig and understand.
- The WAI information is great- there is lot of information. It is information overload. The navigation could be better.
- The WAI is not friendly. It is difficult to understand.
Participants reported researching information largely for professional interest. In making a Web page accessible, participants indicated a need to look for information specific to a particular disability such as the "effect of cognitive disabilities on using the Web" or "the compatibility of screen readers across platforms." Participants also reported that they use the Internet to find solutions to these specific problems.
Participants in the usability test cited both professional and personal reasons that drove their interest in accessibility. Individuals with a disability reported a personal interest in researching accessibility. The blind participant commented, "I use the Web a lot and it is the most powerful tool available to equalize the opportunity for people with disabilities. It can provide a measure of independence and efficiency, and access to information that is unparalleled in other areas."
Other participants in the usability test cited professional interest in researching accessibility. For example, many participants indicated, "government and corporate clients involved in healthcare or pharmaceuticals require or stress accessibility in their Web design."
We asked participants a series of questions related to their Web development experience. More advanced Web developers reported they were most likely to hand-code, while those with less experience reported using software such as Dreamweaver or HomeSite. However, none of the participants indicated that they used the accessibility features built into these programs, largely because "their value isn't clear."
Envisioning the Ideal Web Accessibility Web site
To conclude the pre-test interview, we asked the participants to envision their ideal Web accessibility Web site. They commented on the visual style, content and navigation of this ideal Web site. We observed commonality in participants' vision. Some comments about important features of their ideal accessibility Web site included:
- There should be a category for myths about accessibility so designers know they don't have to sacrifice style.
- There should be examples of pages that are accessible.
- It would contain a set of guidelines for developing Web sites. It should have test tools, information about troubleshooting.
- Maybe a "getting started section" that indicates potential problems.
- Specific examples addressing hard questions. For examples issues on how accessibility conflicts with usability, use of color, navigation. Examples will be helpful regarding these conflicts.
- Biggest problems that need to be addressed, biggest pitfalls, more than one solution, want to see her options, not overwhelming with info, simple to read, 3 to 4 headings.
- There should be hot topics to be aware of, industry specific issues. It should provide recommendations or experiences other people have.