Skip

"We were surprised by how few had tested their websites with disabled users," he said.
March 17, 2006 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Usability Exchange -- a testing service determining site accessibility for disabled users. They're only in the UK now, but it seems like a great idea. Organisations set up their tests online and submit them directly to disabled testers in our database. Testers are then free to complete these tests in their own time, earning money for each test they complete. As tests are completed by users, organisations can view test results, web page logs and other information in real time. More here at BBC, including some concerns.
posted by amberglow (17 comments total)

 
The Usability Exchange site has an annoying horizontal scrollbar on my machine. That's kind of ironic.
posted by banished at 7:53 PM on March 17, 2006


This site is the type of great idea that's incredibly obvious in hindsight. It's a win for everyone involved. Website designers get practical accessibility testing, and users with accessibility concerns get better websites and some income.
posted by scottreynen at 8:04 PM on March 17, 2006


If you think about it, so many sites aren't user-friendly for disabled people at all, and now that there's more embedded video and broadband stuff all over, it's even worse. Government sites are just as bad in many places, too.
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on March 17, 2006


Very cool. Even usability for non-disabled people could use sites like this.
posted by yerfatma at 8:40 PM on March 17, 2006


Internet Explorer is not access-friendly. Firefox is, which made me switch real fast :-) Why? MSIE doesn't enlarge text as it should, Firefox does.
posted by Goofyy at 9:44 PM on March 17, 2006


Why? MSIE doesn't enlarge text as it should, Firefox does.

Isn't this only when the developer takes advantage of a bug in IE and insists on specifying font sizes in pixels?

When I've developed sites designed by print companies some of them insist on not letting the user be able to change the size of the fonts, and to do so, you can take "advantage" of this bug.

I explain why this differs than the print world, how they're taking away a feature that is user directed, and how it won't make an ounce of difference in other browsers, and probably, will no longer be a bug in IE 7 (I'm an optimist) but they usually don't care. Nor does the client. But thankfully I'm running into it less these days.

If the font size is specified in other units, Explorer will increase or decrease them if you like.
posted by juiceCake at 10:15 PM on March 17, 2006


An improvement upon this previously discussed site.
posted by dsword at 11:56 PM on March 17, 2006


Oops! Thread.
posted by dsword at 11:58 PM on March 17, 2006


JuiceCake: I figured it was a choice of the developer/client. But Firefox doesn't care, msie does. I've been waiting for the sites to be hit by ADDA suit. For me, it's partially an issue of vision, more a matter that I prefer to read sitting well back, text enlarged. Better posture, less eye strain. I sit in front of the screen far FAR too many hours each day.
posted by Goofyy at 1:00 AM on March 18, 2006


It's a great idea, but a lot about this particular site makes me extremely leery.

First off, the company that runs it (knowfaster.com) doesn't have its own site -- the URL is attached to phoneanything.com, which appears to be a service where you can phone up and hear webpages.

They have no obvious price, and mention using Paypal as their payment provider.

They offer "luncheon vouchers" instead of payment for testers who are on government benefits, or they give them £20, because "the first £20 of earnings from part-time work that a disabled individual earns in a week is ignored in Income Support calculations".

All in all, it looks like someone trying to make a cheap buck off of the new PAS 78 Guide.

What's particularly disgusting to me is that there are already companies and organisations that will do usability testing for you (I can think of two off the top of my head), but, because these guys seem cheaper and they're getting BBC coverage, they'll get used.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:03 AM on March 18, 2006


Blatant self-promotion: I develop a web browser for blind people, WebbIE, that you can use for examining the usability and accessibility of your site.
posted by alasdair at 2:44 AM on March 18, 2006


Katemonkey, I appreciate your concerns about the company, but if a new entrant provides cheaper web accessibility evaluation and uses real disabled people that seems a Good Thing. We'll have to judge them on results. I notice that the reservations in the BBC article are expressed by the RNIB, which, as Katemonkey points out, also provides usability testing and is therefore a competitor to this site.
posted by alasdair at 3:51 AM on March 18, 2006


I've been waiting for the sites to be hit by ADDA suit.
Goofyy: If you mean the Americans with Disabilities Act, there have been a couple of suits already, although none of them specifically about the IE font resizing bug if that's what you meant. One man sued Southwest Airlines because their site was inaccessible and had special Internet fares; the judge threw out the case. Another suit was recently filed against Target. From what the blog post says, it looks like the legal reasoning is a little different in this case.

If you weren't talking about the ADA, well, then, nevermind me. :)
posted by brett at 6:12 AM on March 18, 2006


I appreciate your concerns about the company, but if a new entrant provides cheaper web accessibility evaluation and uses real disabled people that seems a Good Thing.

It's only a Good Thing if quality services are provided. And obviously, I do have my doubts about the quality.

I mean, I don't think I'm being too fussy in wanting a few things...like a company website and a payment system a bit more secure than PayPal...

I guess I'm just frustrated -- it's a fantastic idea, and it'd be a brilliant thing to have, but there's nothing here to make me believe that I wouldn't be wasting my money.
posted by Katemonkey at 6:33 AM on March 18, 2006


JuiceCake: I figured it was a choice of the developer/client. But Firefox doesn't care, msie does.

I know that. I was merely highlighting the disconnect that can occur between developers and the area they develop for.
posted by juiceCake at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2006


excellent, alasdair : >

Kate, i worry about the testers being exploited, but i also think they're the best ones to really evaluate. And i can't imagine the govt. doing it right (especially here, nowadays). Maybe someone can take this idea and implement it properly here in the US?

They say most if not all of us will be disabled at some in our lives, even if only temporarily--this is really needed.
posted by amberglow at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2006


juiceCake: Thanks, it is good to hear an explanation, but most of the sites I have this problem with aren't that sort.

Brett: Thanks, I thought I had abbreviated wrong. I must've been...tired...or something.
posted by Goofyy at 11:39 PM on March 18, 2006


« Older Jesus The Pug   |   Our album is done, and so is our crappy website. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post