Make IT Accessible

BlackFriday (1)

My name is Kinga Witko and I would like to tell you about accessibility testing, how important it is and about the event that revealed some completely new layers of testing for me.

Accessibility is what we should focus on in all software application – no matter if they are web, mobile or desktop. They should be accessible for everyone, especially for people with certain mental or physical disabilities, because they are not supposed to be limited by the software.

Do you remember – there are over 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, who might be the users of your application – either web or mobile. Basically, it depends on your testing, if they would feel comfortable with these applications or not.

To make my point, I would like to tell you about an event that has really made
a difference for me.

This short story is about discovering new fields of software testing. It is also about a brave woman, who wants to use the software as any other person, but most of the time she can’t. From time to time, she feels excluded, because someone forgets about her needs during development or testing.

About a year ago, when I had a bit of experience as a software tester, especially in
a mobile testing field,  I had a chance to spend some time with a distant relative of mine – a fantastic person. She works from home, using her PC, regardless of her visual impairment, and she uses the different software at her PC with help of Ivona (text-to-speech tool). She also loves to take part in bowling tournaments and is a very active person.
What is so special about her – she also cannot see. I just never realized that she uses
a smartphone as well.
I’ve literally faced by biases.
It was such surprising for me that a person, who cannot see, uses the touchscreen device, rather than old-school Nokia, what is more – not only for talking to people but also as everyone does that. Imagine my surprise, when I saw her using buses timetable app, complaining about how horrible these apps are.

We had a quick chit chat and I said to her –  I don’t want to be rude, but how do you use
a smartphone?
She explained to me that there is an underlying helper, that you have to run on your device – it would be TalkBack on Android and VoiceOver on iOS and it would help you operate and navigate through the applications. She uses also a special application that makes her screen black all the time.

I am a tester, so I took her phone and play around for a while 😀
Believe me, it was a terrible experience. I was constantly getting lost, there were items missing in almost every application I tried. I was cheating, of course, because the screen was visible for me. I was just checking if VoiceOver is doing well or not. At the end of the day, I was disappointed and angry.

It is just not fair that we exclude other people from using the software due to their impairments. There is no label on the applications at Google Play or App Store that “this is the application for people who can see only” or “this is the application for people who don’t have hearing issues”, but in fact THERE IS. There is an invisible label which excludes quite a significant part of our society from the rage of app users.
For me – this is just not fair.

Everyone, no matter of their preferences, age or needs would like to stay social, keep up with friends, receive messages, news or post information on the internet.
Think about it 🙂

We are developers, we are testers, we are UX designers – WE CAN CHANGE IT.
What I want you to do is to go back to your project, run your application on a mobile device, run it on a PC with an assistant of your choice turned on and try to navigate.
Find out how accessible your product is.
How does it feel for the user to act with it?
Feel it.

I believe that this is our responsibility to make it work.

Let’s make it accessible for everyone.


Quick update from one of my readers – Dorota – who wrote about an incredible youtube – Molly Burke. Check Molly’s videos out and have a look at how blind people use technology



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