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Testing Assumptions

, Thursday, October 19th, 2006

There is another interesting article on A List Apart about accessibility. This one focuses on user testing and how assumptions that many of us have made, regarding how differently-abled people use sites, often do not play out in real-life tests. There is some specific comment on how, since there seems to be no actual data to support many of their guidelines, simply following the WGAC recommendations does not guarantee an accessible site.

We often make something a law just because it’s been repeated over and over again. User testing is really the only way that we can prove, or disprove, our ideas about how websites shouold be built.

Some excerpts:

But more than that it turns out that while size matters, boldness also matters. In fact, a bigger text that is not bold, is less readable than a text of the same size that is bold.

and:

In short, we need less discussion and more user research. Especially when our guidelines form the basis of national laws, we need to ensure that they‚??re founded on real user experience.

and finally:

I asked a reputable member of WCAG-WG what kind of user research WCAG 1.0 was based upon. He answered that ‚??WCAG are based on many things,‚?Ě which sounded good, but didn‚??t really answer the question. Exactly what were those ‚??many things‚?Ě?

It’s a short article, and certainly worth the read.

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