Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Screen Reader User Testing: An Avenue for Employment for Those with Vision Loss

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

The last decade has seen the advent of automated accessibility testing tools. These tools can fall short, however, in the actual experience of individuals using screen readers. Therefore, there is a growing need for testing by actual users. In a previous article in the Bulletin, we covered The Carroll Center for the Blind’s Screen Reader User Tester Training Program. This seven-week, intensive, remote training program teaches blind users of screen reading technology how to test websites and programs for accessibility in a systematic way as a means of gaining employment in the accessibility field. Students have the opportunity to be placed in an accessibility testing internship with My Blind Spot, an organization that seeks “To inspire people of ALL abilities,” at the end of the program in order to gain experience and qualifications for the future. The course costs $12,000, and most students are fully funded through their state’s Commission for the Blind or equivalent agency. Other companies and organizations have also begun to offer training programs as well as jobs to screen reader users looking to test accessibility. Most or all of these, including The Carroll Center’s program, have the objective of obtaining a certification by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). A few of these are listed below:

Equalize Digital offers website testing to clients with blind screen reader users as the testers;

– The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Talent Lab designs internships and apprenticeships for potential testers who work on client projects;

HolisticA11y (“A11y” is short for “accessibility”) offers an online training course for testing web accessibility with computer and smartphone screen readers;

Deque University, offers an online screen reader testing course as part of its series on web accessibility testing.

– Lastly, this article from UsableNet explains the advantages of this testing from both a user and developer point of view, as well as listing additional organizations that connect content creators with testers.

As this field continues to expand, this Bulletin will include additional coverage of the latest developments.