How easy is it for a blind person using a screenreader to access your products and services??
Why is accessibility important?
A lack of accessibility can lead to potential customers being prevented from accessing your site, purchasing goods and services, or gaining full access to the information you provide.
Being able to access goods, services and information online has revolutionised the way that people with disabilities live their lives, enabling far more independence and less reliance on others. Here are some reasons why accessibility is important:
- A lack of accessibility could send potential customers elsewhere. If someone is unable to access your products and services, they are likely to leave and find a competitor who meets their access requirements.
- Accessible web design is good for SEO – basic good practices such as the use of headings and the labelling of images can contribute to better ranking in search engines.
- Publicity – good accessibility is not something that screenreader users can automatically rely on, so people tend to share their positive experiences, thus giving you free publicity. Of course the opposite is also true.
- Many people with a visual impairment will not have access to visual advertising methods, such as printed materials, so your online presence may be the first time that they encounter your business. If they have a positive experience, they are more likely to return.
- Many people with a visual impairment choose to shop or book services online as they don’t have to consider the potential problems they may encounter if they had to locate a physical shop or travel to a service provider.
- You’re increasing your reach by making your products and services accessible to other members of the community who may have been excluded before.
- How accessible is your website?
- How easy is it for screenreader users to find out about your products and services?
- How accessible is your newsletter?
- How accessible are your social media profiles?
- How accessible are your training materials or courses?
- How accessible are your events?
Accessibility is something that I care about, both because it’s important to be inclusive, and because as a blind adult, I have first-hand experience of not being able to access goods and services because of issues around accessibility. My approach is not just to point out a list of things that are wrong, but to work with customers, exploring the customer journey from the perspective of someone using a screenreader, and identifying solutions to problems, or ways to improve the customer experience.
Customer experience consultation and accessibility action plan
Hiring me as an accessibility consultant means that we can build your package to suit your needs, focussing on the elements that are most relevant to your business.
Possible areas to include are:
We will work through your areas of interest, using your current resources as examples, either in a video conference meeting or on the telephone. I will answer your questions, point out any accessibility issues that I discover, and work with you on strategies to improve the overall customer experience for blind customers using a screenreader. I will also provide you with an accessibility action plan, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of the issues as we go along. Alternatively, I can user test your training materials/website/customer journey and provide you with a written report.
We can break the task down into chunks, but it’s important to remember the whole customer journey and experience – from finding out about your products or services, to buying and using them. It doesn’t help if you have an accessible course that people can’t sign up to, or a great website, but you can’t build the know like and trust factor with blind customers because your social media content excludes them.
Free information sheet about common barriers to accessibility
I don’t believe people go out of their way to make their businesses inaccessible. They just don’t realise what could be a problem, or what small things they could do to make life a bit easier for someone who uses software to read what’s on the screen and who always accesses information electronically.
I believe One of the best ways to demonstrate the problems is to show people – using real examples, and to draw on experiences from everyday life.
That’s why I wrote an information sheet about problems I’ve had in different areas such as finding out about products, accessing websites, social media, and training events. I’ve included 40 tips, many of which are easily implementable, that you can use to avoid other people having the same difficulties.
Website usability testing with a screenreader
Screenreader usability reports from EwK Services focus on a site in terms of its accessibility and usability to a blind user working with screenreading software (in this case JAWS – Job Access with Speech), and NVDA, an open source screenreader. JAWS has been found to be the most popular screenreader for Windows, and whilst there is other software on the market that is not featured in this report, issues identified for JAWS and NVDA users are likely to affect those working with other software as well. The site is also tested using a mobile device and VoiceOver, the in-built screenreader in Apple products.
Whilst there are tests online that highlight accessibility issues, this does not necessarily reflect the experience of people with disabilities who use accessibility software such as screenreaders in their everyday lives. Similarly, whilst it is possible to download demonstration versions of speech software, this will not reflect the experience of a proficient user who is familiar with all the keystrokes and used to navigating sites without the use of a mouse or visual input.
My accessibility report gives you an understanding of a visit to your site from the perspective of a screenreader user, highlighting any difficulties experienced by someone who cannot access visual information (such as unlabelled graphics), and who accesses websites without the use of a mouse.
These reports focus primarily on usability with a screenreader and are not WCAG compliance audits.
The final report will cover the following questions:
- How easy was it to find information on the site for someone who cannot see graphics or use a mouse to access page elements?
- How well were products/services described? Could someone without the ability to see pictures know exactly what they were purchasing?
- How easy was it to put things in the basket/select relevant services/progress through the site with only keyboard navigation?
- How well were buttons, images, links and page elements labelled?
- Could all controls be activated without a mouse?
- How easy was it to set up an account/pay for the goods?
- Could all reasonable tasks be completed independently, without sighted help?
- Was there anything on the site that was distracting, such as constantly refreshing text or automatic videos or sound files that would prevent a screenreader user from being able to hear what was on the site and thus access the information?
- What was the experience like on a mobile device? Were there any difficulties that were not present on the desktop site test?
- Overall how good was the user experience for a screenreader user?
- Is there anything else that could be improved or made more accessible?
What kind of website or app testing is right for you?
Here are some of the usability testing services that I offer. If you require something that isn’t on the list, get in touch and we can talk about it.
- General 60-minute consultation with businesses to discuss website accessibility, making the site or customer experience more accessible to blind people. Includes a written summary of recommendations.
- Recorded user testing of your site using a laptop and JAWS. Completing tasks identified by you. Recording of the session so you can follow along on-screen and listen to my commentary explaining what I am doing and what issues I encountered.
- User testing of your site on an iPhone using VoiceOver. Written document describing how easy it was to complete the tasks set by you, and any problems encountered.
- App testing – using VoiceOver on an iPhone. Written report describing user experience and any problems encountered.
- Written website testing report addressing the questions listed above and covering the main issues faced by screenreader users using a keyboard.
- Half a day (3.5 hours) is priced at £120.
- A full day (7 hours) is priced at ££240
- Optional power hour calls are also available priced at £45. These can be used for addressing specific areas within an hour. Key take-aways are sent to you in writing, but there is no official report.
After an initial consultation in which we discuss the scope of the project and what you would like to cover, I will provide a quote based on the number of half-day or full-day sessions it will take to complete the work. Time is purchased as either half-day or full-day sessions, but you don’t need to take the whole block at once. For example, if a task only takes 90 minutes, the rest of your time will be kept on your account until you need it for something else.
Payment can be made by bank transfer or Paypal. Customers outside of the UK are asked to pay via Paypal.
Would you like to know more?
If you’d like to know more about one of the services, request a copy of my free accessibility factsheet, or sign up for the newsletter, please use my contact form: