Evaluating Accessibility: The Quick-UX Way

clip_image001Accessibility is the measure of how many differently skilled/abled types of people (including individuals with disabilities) in varying locations (e.g. mobile web) can make use of a given product. There exist many, very thorough, guidelines for determining the degree to which a product adheres to accepted accessibility standards. However, many can be very complex and time-consuming, also requiring the study of a good deal of the underlying code — much of which goes against the goals of the ‘quick’ part of Quick-UX.

Quick-UX

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Accessibility represents one of the more complex components.

In Parts

Greater Accessibility provides greater benefits to people both with and without disabilities, from equal opportunity to facilitating perception and navigation.

There are many factors that go into achieving Comprehensive Flexibility.

Navigation
Orientation
Alternate Text
Scripting Usage
CSS Implementation
HTML Standards
and more…

As there are many factors, there are also many techniques and frameworks for evaluating them:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)
http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG)
http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10/

Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508)
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm

Quantified

I use a robust (and free) proxy for quickly assessing a product’s Accessibility through the use of the Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE) link. The FAE’s resultant scores are averages which, in turn, are normalized to a range from zero to one to represent the value for Quick-UX‘s Accessibility variable.

01_fae_results

For a long time I used a simple normalizing of a product’s Passes, as determined by FAE, to a 0 – 1.0 scale. Over time websites have been improving due to the increased usage of templated languages, development libraries, and the improving skillsets of web developers. As a result, I found the need to shift my scale to more readily capture the increased quality and more clearly highlight the differences between the calculated Accessibility values.

The new equation I have been using to raise this bar on website Accessibility follows:

  1. Take the average of all 5 categories of FAE determined Passes. The result is X, the normalized Pass score, and falls between 0.0 and 1.0.
  2. Shift and expand the scale. The result is Y.
    • Y = 2X -1
  3. Finally, the Quick-UX Accessibility value, QUA, is bounded:
    • QUA = Y for Y ≥ 0
    • QUA = 0 for Y < 0

See the Quick-UX Worksheet for easy, automatic calculating of the QUA (and other Quick-UX variables).

Levels

Once quantified, a product falls into 1 of 5 levels that we will be exploring and discussing in the remainder of this series on Quick-UX Accessibility. They are:

  Comprehensive Accessibility QUA > 0.8
  Nearly Comprehensive Accessibility QUA > 0.6
  Moderate Accessibility QUA > 0.4
  Fair Accessibility QUA > 0.2
  Poor Accessibility QUA ≤ 0.2

Scope

For this discussion of Quick-UX Accessibility, I evaluated over 50 products and will be exploring a select subset in greater detail in the coming articles. The distribution of the evaluated products for this series can be seen in the following chart.

clip_image003

Quick & Usable

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring the ins-and-outs of a variety of products, and walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Accessibility

Comprehensive Accessibility [RoundHouse & FAE]
Nearly Comprehensive Accessibility [UseIt & Eboy]
Moderate Accessibility [Borders, Bloomberg & NY1]
Fair Accessibility [CNET & Drudge Report & NBC NY]
Poor Accessibility [GoodReads & Barnes and Noble]

Quick-UX Accessibility Summary, Charts & Data

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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About Jeremy Horn

Jeremy Horn is an award-winning, product management veteran with 2 decades of experience leading and managing product teams. Jeremy has held various executive and advisory roles, from founder of several start-ups to driving diverse organizations in online services, consumer products, and wearables. As founder of The Product Group, he has created the largest product management meetup in the world and hosts the annual awarding of The Best Product Person. Accelerating the next evolution of product management, Jeremy acted as creator and instructor of the 10-week product management course at General Assembly and The New School, and mentoring at Women 2.0 and Lean Startup Machine (where is he also a judge). To see where Jeremy is now check him out at (1) http://linkedin.com/in/TheProductGuy and (2) http://TheProductGuy.com

10 thoughts on “Evaluating Accessibility: The Quick-UX Way

  1. Thanks for the series – I’m looking forward to the future articles. Not sure if someone reported this already, but when I click on the link for the worksheet, I get a security error message in Firefox … “Firefox to connect
    securely to go2.wordpress.com, but we can’t confirm that your connection is secure.”

    Has anyone else reported issues?

    Like

    • Thank you. I am unable to replicate the Worksheet link issue you are referring to. None of the links that I have inserted use go2.wordpress.com and am not detecting WordPress inserted redirects. Anyone else having this issue?

      Like

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