As many TESTHEAD readers will notice, I’ve been on a tear with regard to Accessibility this year. It’s become my monomaniacal focus, and I’ve entered a semi-crazy co-dependent relationship on this topic with Albert Gareev. It’s been a lot of fun talking about and focusing on this topic the past few months, as each time I think I understand what’s happening and how we can do better, I learn something more that shows me just how far we have to go.

I remember back during STP-CON at the beginning of April witnessing an “A-Ha” moment for a roomful of people. that moment was when I asked the attendees in my session to open their laptops if they had them, or other devices, and turn on a screen reader just so they could “hear” what various sites were saying. Since a majority of the users in the room at that time had Macs, loading VoiceOver was quick. They started VoiceOver… and then things got interesting. As I watched people’s faces, I could see the curling of lips, the furrowing of brows, and the nervous laughter pop up at points. The blast of electronic voices that erupted from system speakers was very enlightening, and watching a roomful of people realize just how difficult it was to listen to the output of their favorite sites made it crystal clear how hard it was for sight impaired users to get useful information from an average web site (or at least, a site that hadn’t made considerations for accessibility).

This coming Saturday, we will be doing a session on screen readers with Weekend Testing Americas. I’m suggesting Mac users configure VoiceOver, and PC users download NVDA.

This session will be an introduction to Accessibility through the use of Screen Reader applications. My goal is to give people a chance to play with these features on common sites and see how well those sites make the general information on the page accessible to users, and how much useless information they receive. We will use these examples to have a discussion about how to address issues related to Accessibility, as well as building a case for making Accessibility part of an overall testing strategy.

If you would like to join us on Saturday, please send a request to “weekendtestersamericas” to add your SkypeID. In your request, mention that you want to join this Saturday’s session. On Saturday, twenty minutes before the start of the session, please contact us and ask to be added to the session, and we will do so. Here’s hoping you can make it ;).