Responses to the Web Testers Program
This is a wonder project. I know my staff will use the tools and be able to make better decisions on future development. We'll take your suggestions and see if we can get something implemented in the next few weeks.
– Betsy Hartman, Department of State Information Technology
Reports were extremely helpful. We understand we need to make pages accessible, but the reports helped by identifying things that we would never have thought of. This is definitely a valuable service, one we would budget money to access.
– David Bland, Department of Transportation
The reports are awesome; feedback from the web testers should be invaluable. Their responses were thoughtful, to the point, and constructively critical. I could almost feel some of the frustration that was experienced. The questionnaire was spot on with targeting areas of compliance and usability, and the additional resource links will be helpful in researching more detailed information, if needed.
Our senior management has received an Executive Summary of the final reports, and plans are being developed to follow up with remediation. The full report is available as an internal document to be referenced as we move forward with our Agency Website. These are valuable lessons learned that will help when designing new web pages or editing existing pages. It should also help provide some insight as to what is actually meant by a ‘handicap accessible’ web page.
This type of information is worth paying for! Just checking off a list of Section 508 guidelines does not mean that a website is useable. Thanks for including us in the Pilot Program. Anybody who sponsors a public website and cares about accessibility should go through this process.
– Tina Winter, Department of Revenue
Web Tester Responses
Participating in the Web Tester program gave me a new appreciation of the complexity of web design. Also, I learned how websites can be "accessible" but not always usable. With each web accessibility study, there should be a study for usability as well. I feel that many developers have no idea that their site is not accessible and many are willing to do the right thing to make it accessible if only they would have known. I feel that participating on this committee has been and hopefully will be a way for me to spread the word about the importance of accessibility as well as to educate others on how to make things accessible from the ground up.
– Clay Jeffcoat
I used to think mostly of users who were visually impaired. Going through the training and page testing reminded me to think about users with different disabilities that use different types of assistive technology. I also realized that it can be challenging to present information that is catchy in a 'Web 2.0' way that is also accessible for people using assistive technology. As a web designer, it's a balancing act. I've enjoyed participating in the program. It's a great opportunity, as a tester, to learn about various accessibility challenges. It makes me more aware of challenges not only on the web, but in life in general. As an added plus, I've learned more about things our state offers by evaluating websites for various state entities.
– Allison Yeager
I did not realize how JAWS was affected by the web pages. I gained an appreciation for the challenges faced by people who use different technology from mine. I also realized just how challenging it is to design web pages, how designers use scripting, etc.
– Cindy Popenhagen
In the process of web testing training I gained an in-depth knowledge of web programming and design. I gained a clearer picture of what problems I personally face with my low vision/blindness, as well as what challenges people with various disabilities might encounter with the Internet. In the beginning, surfing the web with a screen reader and screen magnifier, I encountered several difficulties. I did not quite understand what the real issue was - was it my inexperience with using assistive technology or the web design? Through this pilot program I have discovered that it is both. I’m now able to tell which it is, in a particular situation. I have more experience with AT and can better maneuver through some tough spots of web inaccessibility.
– Laura Skelton
Web testing was my first real job. Not only did I learn the challenges web designers face in developing accessible content, but how to explain what needed to be changed to make that content accessible. I am very grateful to everyone involved in this program for giving me the opportunity to open the world of the web to all those who were previously excluded. The skills I learned as a web tester have helped me communicate my needs more effectively in my present job.
I liked the feeling of community I experienced with fellow testers as we puzzled out different ways to improve web pages and how assistive technology interacts with them. I have also gained confidence in speaking to proven professionals in the assistive technology field without feeling like an ‘underling.’ Not only did I learn valuable information about assistive technology, but I learned more about myself as well.
– Leslie Brown
However, my most valuable lessons about diverse learners and UDL have not come from the readings, simulations, or course projects. They have come from talking with the learners themselves.
At the SC AT Expo, Matt Polkowsky from DHEC talked about creating accessible Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents. Very informative to be sure, but it was the input from Steve Cook, an end user who is blind that was the most enlightening. He was able to speak from his hands-on JAWS experience and directly answer questions like no one else could.
During the research for my AT website, I interviewed an audio engineer in New York who has a visual impairment. I learned so much during the 2 hours we talked - about his frustrations with assistive technology, his techniques for overcoming limitations, and his work with software developers on accessibility.
This is the key lesson I will share with people about AT, UDL, and diverse learners: Talk to and learn from the end users. Their perspective is essential to understanding effective accessible design.
– A USC Grad Student