When people normally think about accessibility they normally think about standards compliance, automated tests, and box ticking. This is really important stuff, but it isn’t user-facing. In other words, you don’t get to find out what it is really like for people with accessibility issues to use and experience your product.
Accessibility field testing is a good method to address this. Basically, you recruit a range of users with accessibility issues, visit them in their homes (you have to do this since accessibility set-ups are very bespoke), then you interview them and carry out some user testing.
Locating these users has traditionally been quite difficult, but its great to see some services springing up to fill the gap (in the UK at least): The Shaw Trust offers recruitment and testing services, and so does the RNIB (although only for vision impaired users).
Accessibility field testing is important because there is a difference between ‘looking good on paper’ (standards compliance), and what it is like in practice, i.e. whether your product is joy to use. Bear this in mind next time you are scoping a project with an accessibility component.
[ Source: Boagworld.com ]