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Test products using common assistive technologies

Test products using common assistive technologies


Edited by Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer, Department of Innovation and Technology;  Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, City of Chicago. Contributors: Danielle DuMerer and Matthew Guilford, Department of Innovation & Technology; Laurie Dittman and Joseph Russo, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, City of Chicago.

During quality control, products should be tested by project teams and people with disabilities using common assistive technologies. The local government unit charged with implementing the accessible technology initiative should establish and maintain an assistive technology lab where project teams and interested individuals with disabilities can conduct user acceptance testing (UAT). The lab should be equipped with workstations that have common assistive technology software installed, like screen readers and magnifiers so that testers can test products using this software and so that individuals who are blind or have visual impairments can participate. The lab should also provide alternative hardware, like alternate keyboard devices and electronic pointing devices, so that testers with mobility impairments that affect manual dexterity can participate in the testing program and determine whether the products function correctly.  

If a product is developed by a vendor, as part of the quality control process both the vendor and the local government should be responsible for testing the product for compliance with accessibility standards. This can be done by running automatic web accessibility evaluation tools, like WAVE or the Functional Accessibility Evaluator, as well as common assistive technology software, like JAWS or ZoomText, prior to conducting user acceptance testing. WebAIM provides a more comprehensive list of web accessibility evaluation tools online.

Compliance reports generated by testing teams during quality control processes should be delivered to the Compliance agency for review. To facilitate this process, checklists (example Section 508 checklist) or report templates (example Web site Accessibility Report) should be developed to standardize the review process using the adopted standards as a reference. Automatic evaluator reports (example formats) may also be provided to key project stakeholders, including the agency responsible for compliance.