Building a Participant Pool for Internal Accessibility Testing

• Amy Deschenes
• Vittorio Buchieri 
• Michele Clopper 
• Maura Ferrarini 
• Kris Markman 
• Kyle Shachmut 
• Janet Taylor 
• Leah Yoffe 

Project Overview:
In order to successfully improve Harvard’s broader efforts toward digital accessibility, a greater number of staff members must be engaged in testing and improving technology systems, websites, and other electronic products. Given that some disabilities are low incidence, accessibility testing can be a challenge if the department does not have easy access to staff or students with disabilities. Our project will connect any Harvard affiliate to testers with disabilities in order to improve operational efficiency and increase capacity for testing by expert users.

Project Objectives:
Our proposed solution will address the problem by increasing awareness for the need for accessibility testing and facilitating the testing process. Our project will create a process for recruiting people who use assistive technology to serve as potential accessibility testers for Harvard interfaces. We will build a database of potential testers, establish policies for its use, and pilot the testing process with 5 Harvard web projects. The primary outcome of the project will be a low-cost approach to performing consistent and regular accessibility testing at Harvard.

Expected Outcomes:
• Create a participant pool of people who make use of assistive technology and are interested in testing.
• Establish a workflow for Harvard staff members to recruit, communicate, and compensate potential participants.
• Document and promote the solution to the community.
• Support a low-cost solution to performing consistent and regular accessibility testing across a variety of Harvard products.

Expected Impact:
This will have a measurable impact by increasing the number of Harvard products that are tested for accessibility prior to launch or during the enhancements cycle. This project is different from other existing participant pools on campus in that it is focused specifically on recruiting people who use assistive technology and because it supports staff who test internal systems and products, rather than academic researchers. The University will benefit from this project by transforming staff personal connections into an institutional relationship with this underserved population. By building this relationship, we will be able to create and promote a culture of systematic accessibility testing.