10th November marked World Usability Day. To highlight and mark the importance of this global event, User Vision, based in Edinburgh, hosted an office open day to learn more about making products usable and highlighting accessibility within digital applications. Tor and I decided to attend the event giving us a glimpse of how to better incorporate good accessibility practices within Edinburgh Napier’s existing and emerging digital services.
Firstly we went into a room that had a mix of consultants with different activities. The first activity was showcasing an example of a badly coded contact form and a good example of a contact form with the demonstration done on a screen reader. From the bad example, it was clear using incorrect HTML and Aria Labels that it was very difficult for the person using a screen reader to navigate their way around and fully understand what each input field is for. It read out ‘inputs’ but didn’t have any context behind it meaning an impaired user wouldn’t know what to enter in those fields.
WCAG 2.2 Guidelines
During our time at the event we attended a talk by one of User Vision’s consultants about the upcoming changes within the WCAG 2.2 guidelines. A lot of these upcoming changes include changes to focus appearance and focus not being obscured during tabbing and highlighting – this is when you are tabbing through content on a page using only a keyboard instead of using a mouse. While these changes aren’t currently live and requirements to adhere to, it’s a good opportunity for us to learn what is upcoming and how as a university we can go above and beyond to support our users in meeting accessibility requirements.
In another section we worked with a consultant to explore usability testing. Tor acted as the participant and I was the note taker analysing her actions and asking her to verbalise her thoughts and feelings towards the actions she was carrying out. The example Tor was tasked with was to navigate and carry out tasks around the Natwest website where she had to find out the interest rate of a particular balance transfer card. She was also asked to describe her thoughts and feelings as she was going through each task, allowing the facilitators to visually see what works with the application and what doesn’t. This was a great activity that allowed us to see how User Vision run usability tests and the questions they are using to prompt responses from the participant of the test.
We had a great afternoon at User Vision’s event and we have brought back a lot of valuable information around accessibility and usability. It was great to see the impact caused to impaired users through applications that aren’t built with accessibility in mind. The event has allowed us to reflect and think about what we learned and allowed us to start thinking about key areas where we can improve the accessibility of Edinburgh Napier’s digital applications.