A young woman and man with disabilities look at a tablet device and provide user testing on accessibility and usability.

Usability testing with people with disabilities

What is useability testing?

Usability testing makes sure that users with disabilities and diversity are included in evaluating the readability and useability of content.

This helps to ensure that content is inclusive, accessible, easy to read, and achieves its intended purpose.  It also ensures that content is respectful and appropriate for the intended audience.

There are a range of ways to include people from diverse backgrounds in usability testing. Focus groups and group-based forums can provide valuable insights from a particular group, and can stimulate rich discussion and insights. Not everyone finds group settings work well for them, so individual interviews, online sessions or surveys can offer other ways to get involved, share experiences, and provide feedback.

Testing can be done at a technical level and a human level. Initial automated testing can help pick up practical issues to resolve, while user testing is important to understand the experience of users as they engage with your content.

Level 1: Automated testing for readability and accessibility

Automated testing is done using software, websites and automatic scanning of content for readability and accessibility. This includes areas such as

  • readability scores
  • document accessibility
  • digital/web accessibility.

Level 2: In-person user testing with individuals or groups

In-person testing engages with people who represent a user group to seek their views and make recommendations for content and use. This can include feedback on:

  • explicit verbal content: understanding of verbal content and key facts
  • Implicit verbal content: meaning and comprehension of key concepts
  • Non-verbal elements: design, layout, text size, colours, illustrations/graphics
  • Useability of content: e.g., appropriate length, ease of navigation, clear headings and structure, overview and conclusion, clear contact details for more information
  • Relevance and suitability: e.g., culturally appropriate, represents age and gender diversity, appropriate disability representation.

The user testing process

We use a careful testing process to engage with users, hear their feedback and seek advice on content and design. It is also important to ensure that participants are fairly compensated for their time and contributions.

  • Users are provided with materials in advance, and an overview of the context and purpose of the materials.
  • Users are provided with initial prompts and questions to guide their feedback process.
  • Users explore the materials with or without the assistance of a support person.
  • Users make initial notes on their experience and comments.
  • Users then participate in either an individual interview (online or in-person) or a focus group (online or in-person). Sessions are audio-recorded with the consent of participants.  Participants are de-identified during the feedback process.
  • Users discuss the content and share feedback and recommendations.
  • Anonymised feedback from users is integrated into the design and content.

Informed Consent

Ethical practice is critical when working with consumers to understand their views and experiences. Clear consent should be collected from all participants in testing and focus groups before they start. If any user has a guardian, informed consent is collected from both the tester and their guardian. 

When we work with participants, we make sure that they know what is involved, including:

  • What the project is for
  • What they will be doing and why it is helping
  • Any potential risks
  • What personal details are collected and how any personal data may be used
  • They do not have to participate.  Participation is voluntary, and they can always stop at any time.

A young woman with intellectual disability smiling and reading an easy read page

How can we help?

We make information accessible and inclusive for everyone.

Contact us for Easy Read or Plain Language translations, accessible documents, and user testing.

Contact us