Accessibility versus Usability
AFB Consulting believes that the key to achieving true digital inclusion through accessible and usable products is to honestly report the status of a product and avoid the illusion of accessibility without the actual benefit by focusing on user experience. Our philosophy is to prioritize the usability of our clients’ products to ensure the best possible inclusive experience for the consumer by providing actionable, high-impact solutions to help reduce risk and improve the actual user experience.
Many organizations position their accessibility solutions around automated testing tools that offer a push-button approach to accessibility testing. Those solutions are inexpensive, scalable, and easy to implement. However, even the best automated tools on the market can only test for about 15% of potential accessibility issues.
AFB Consulting, instead, leverages manual code inspection, manual operability testing, manual assistive-technology-based testing, and, most importantly, user-based testing with individuals who have disabilities in order to identify issues.
To ensure that our foundations are practical and achievable, our expert engineers work with our clients to create a tailored list of key user workflows, and then, authentic users with disabilities test those flows through live sessions with a screen reader. With that core feedback, the engineers then provide solutions for how to solve each of these prioritized issues and can also engage with the client’s development team through immersive training and integrations into the product’s current development sprints.
We always root our feedback in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), but we are not limited by it. As a result, we often identify accessibility issues outside the conformance criteria as well, helping our clients to become thoughtful leaders and innovators in inclusive design. However, references to these standards are critical to contextualize our findings as being the standards of choice by disability-advocacy groups and the U.S. Department of Justice, and they also provide us with the foundation to evaluate the accessibility and usability of products for all disability types.
Evaluating accessibility and usability using a screen reader, the premier assistive technology tool for people who cannot see, catches most compliance and usability issues because it encompasses most of the complexities encountered by users of various disabilities, not only blindness. For example, a screen reader user is also a keyboard-only user. When we test for the screen reader use case, we will find the majority of all possible usability problems on a particular workflow, with testing for the rest completed through additional manual checks. Effective screen reader implementation will lead to a good experience for people with motor impairments and cognitive disabilities in addition to people who are blind.
While the legal landscape continues to evolve over time regarding accessibility, we believe that the companies who operate in a good faith effort to openly work toward all of their clients' needs not only find legal protection but also increased market share, improved branding, customer loyalty, and maximum returns on the investment.