Hiring Accessibility Consultants & User Testers
Many accessibility consultants are available for hire to help build and fix accessibility issues, and to provide staff trainings. If you're seeking professional help, the community-driven Accessibility Project maintains a short list of accessibility consultants.
Employers in the market for accessible technologies should always recruit a diverse panel of users with disabilities to help guide purchasing decisions. Making user testing a standard part of technology procurement will improve accessible technology in the workplace, help workers be more productive, and likely save employers money and time in the long run.
A diverse group should include people with many different disabilities, such as speech, hearing, mobility, vision, and cognitive. It’s always a best practice to recruit outside testers, rather than just your current employees. After all, employees with disabilities who are constantly asked to test are taking time away from doing their jobs. They also may not be representative of everyone who will use the technology, as even people with similar disabilities can have very different technology needs.
“Recruiting internal staff to test a user interface should be a last resort” – Nielson Normal Group
It’s worth noting that experts generally frown upon the practice of recruiting employees as usability-test participants. Just consider the downsides compiled by the Nielsen Norman Group, who caution that recruiting internal employees as testers should be a last resort. As they note, “for most situations it is inappropriate and leads to incorrect results that cannot be trusted to reflect your real audience’s needs and behaviors.” Of course, if you have employees actively interested in participating in the selection process, particularly for a tool they will use personally, it is natural to include their input, and it may be appropriate to advertise such opportunities through your company's diversity and inclusion Employee Resource Group (ERG).
Hiring paid user testers is a best practice. If you’re not sure where to start, an accessibility consultant can connect you with an organization that specializes in helping clients to recruit users with disabilities and conduct evaluations.
There are also guidelines and resources for recruiting user testers at the following links: