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  1. #1
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    Testing on blind users

    I'm amazed at how often I hear people recommend that designers test all of their work on blind people. How on earth am I suppost to do this? I don't know any blind people, it's as simple as that.

    I know you can get some third party software to simulate these things, or simply switch off your monitor and use a screen reader, but when you test things in this way, just like when you test other elements yourself, you're bound to gloss over some of the problems.

    If anyone has a list of email contacts of blind people that have nothing better to do that test websites, I'd love to share it.
    Hello, hello, what's all this shouting?
    We'll have no trouble here

    (Helping a pal... http://www.funkdub.info)

  2. #2
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Well, the RNIB might be a good start. I found testers via my local charity for the blind which if called Galloways.

    Here's one for your area:
    http://www.visionsupport.org.uk/

  3. #3
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Like Nicky said, there are various volunteer groups that help test websites with people having various disabilities. Joe Clark's "Building Accessible Websites" book has lots of other tips if you can't find any testers in your local area though (specifically look at pages 345-347). You won't get the full picture obviously, but it will help more than doing nothing at all.

  4. #4
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    Good posts, thanks very much.

    I contacted the RNIB, and they suggested local charities too - so I'll look into that. I'll also have a look at Mr Clark's book, I hear he knows his onions.
    Hello, hello, what's all this shouting?
    We'll have no trouble here

    (Helping a pal... http://www.funkdub.info)

  5. #5
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I don't know about onions, but Joe certainly knows his accessibility.

  6. #6
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Also you could try a screen reader and turn-off your VDU, or close your eyes as a last resort.

  7. #7
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xhtmlcoder
    Also you could try a screen reader and turn-off your VDU, or close your eyes as a last resort.
    unless you know how to use the screenreader properly, and know about verbosity settings that most screenreader users have set, this kind of testing will often be inconclusive, and in the worst case can lead to false interpretations of the result.

    anecdotal evidence: a developer at our organisation got himself a screenreader and simply used it to have the entire pages read out to him top to bottom...and then proceeded to shorten them all to nice bite-sizes. in practice, a visually impaired user rarely has the entire document read out in one go without any intervention. one user i knew would normally have the entire page read out really quickly, skipping from paragraph to paragraph at high speed, to get a feel for the page, and then use tools and shortcuts built into the screenreader to selectively navigate the document structure (skipping from heading to heading, getting the document structure read out, etc) - similar to visually scanning a page and then focussing your attention on a particular part of the screen. again, this may not be the method other blind users employ, but it's important to know exactly how the technology is used in real life.

    ...end of rant
    re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
    [latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
    WaSP Accessibility Task Force Member
    splintered.co.uk | photographia.co.uk | redux.deviantart.com

  8. #8
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    ...end of rant
    That's not a rant. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.
    Hello, hello, what's all this shouting?
    We'll have no trouble here

    (Helping a pal... http://www.funkdub.info)

  9. #9
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Quite that's why I said last resort, and again it depends on the level and type of blindness the last registered blind person I had a conversation with this year a few months back who gave me a site test just required the colours to be inversed to high contrast.

    So the only real issues he had was the CSS positioning of an overlapped element other than that he had no major problems with viewing the textual data.

    Without a doubt you cannot actually emulate the real thing and no way is it a substitute though it should give a slight inkling to some of the barriers involved by a selective group.

  10. #10
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    If I didn't know anyone, I'd just skip it. How many potential visitors are we talking about anyway?

  11. #11
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaFlyer
    If I didn't know anyone, I'd just skip it. How many potential visitors are we talking about anyway?
    haha - that's brilliant.
    Hello, hello, what's all this shouting?
    We'll have no trouble here

    (Helping a pal... http://www.funkdub.info)

  12. #12
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaFlyer
    If I didn't know anyone, I'd just skip it. How many potential visitors are we talking about anyway?
    It's just not those "potential visitors", it's also everyone they could potentially tell. And why would you turn any business away? If I ran an online shop I'd make sure that as many people as possible can use it. Blind people buy things too, and they give gifts and recommendations to sighted friends.


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