Martha Lane-Fox takes on the Three Peaks to support AbilityNet

We are delighted that our patron Martha Lane-Fox has chosen to support AbilityNet as she takes on the Three Peaks Challenge later this year.

Martha, who suffered a stroke and broke 26 bones in a life-changing car crash in 2004, is setting out to conquer the three highest peaks in the UK.

TwMartha Lane-Fox in training walking up a hill with a tree in the distanceenty years on from her accident she is will be climbing Snowden on April 20th, Scafell Pike on May 5th and Ben Nevis on September 7th. You can find more details on her Martha's Mountain Mayhem external fundraising page. 

Martha will not be alone on during this mountain marathon as her two seven-year-old boys will be joining her. Can you support their amazing challenge?

Donate to Martha's fundraiser

About Martha's chosen charities

"I want to raise a serious amount of money for four charities which are linked to my story," says Martha on her fundraising page.

"Firstly, dayonetrauma.org who help people navigate the recovery from extreme physical trauma. They are building an amazing support network of peers, but the need is enormous and they want to expand into every major trauma centre in the UK."

"Secondly, Iamthecode.org who train girls in refugee camps with computer science and digital skills. If I had not be fortunate enough to be involved in the early days of e-commerce, I would not have had the resources to find the best care both at home and in hospital. These girls may never leave the camps, but at least they have more opportunity to get work through new skills. IATC wants to have trained 1m girls by 2030.

"Thirdly, AbilityNet who work to help everyone use digital services, particularly people with disabilities."

"Please help me to help these different charities, all of whom plug vital holes in different systems of care," says Martha.

Martha's role with AbilityNet

Martha Lane-Fox texting with her noseMartha Lane Fox (Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho) became our patron in 2011. She took part in our Look No Hands campaign, alongside Stephen Fry, which showed how challenging technology can be to some disabled people. She also won our Tech4Good Special Award in 2023.

As a charity that offers support to disabled and older people and aims to make the digital world accessible to all, we are delighted Martha has chosen to support AbilityNet.

Donate to AbilityNet

Find out more about how you can donate to AbilityNet.

Could you become an AbilityNet Tech Volunteer?

Our valued network of 450+ volunteers help disabled people and older people across the UK to learn how technology can help them, and make the most out of the digital world. We're always keen to welcome new tech volunteers to AbilityNet's IT Support at Home service.

If you're reading this and would like to get involved, please get in contact.

Become an AbilityNet volunteer

AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logoAbilityNet's Digital Skills project with BT Group is supporting people 65+ with getting online and using technology, such as:

- learning how to use email
- make video calls
- use online banking and book medical appointments

Sign up for Free BT Digital Skills sessions for people over 65 in your area. (Available to people in and around London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff.)

Further resources

Free disabilities sessions: educate your group about disability and technology via our sessions which we can deliver to your organisation.

AbilityNet also offers workplace training: choose from a selection of online learning options for you and your team.

How AbilityNet can Help

How does WCAG 2.2 support disabled users?

When navigating the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 updates, it's important not to just focus on meeting compliance, but to reflect on how it impacts your very real users. To achieve this, combining WCAG 2.2 standards with user testing is key. This way, you can ensure that your website and digital content not only meet the standards, but also genuinely cater to the needs of real users.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the recent updates in WCAG 2.2 and discuss how these changes can significantly impact the lives of users, focussing on the lived experiences of disabled individuals. 

What is WCAG?

WCAG, or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, serves as a benchmark for making digital content accessible to a diverse audience. With its four principles - perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust - WCAG sets standards that cater to various disabilities and technologies.

The guidelines have evolved over the years, with the recent release of WCAG 2.2 addressing a new range of new challenges faced by users. 

Two women sitting at desk looking at laptopNeed training for you or your team about WCAG 2.2?
Come to our WCAG 2.2 course: The Essential Guide to WCAG 2.2

Crack the code of WCAG 2.2 for developers, designers and all those who need to meet web accessibility standards.

To help explain some of the WCAG 2.2 success criterion updates and how it affects disabled users, let’s meet Jordan and Kirsty. 

Jordan: Physical and cognitive disabilities and WCAG A man smiling at the camera while three people behind are preparing food

Jordan is a retired headmaster living with Parkinson's disease. Parkinson’s affects movement, causing tremors and affecting attention and executive functioning skills.

Jordan’s tremors lead to frequent mistakes and miss-clicks using the mouse, so he uses the keyboard to navigate websites. His attention span is affected by Parkinson's, which makes it difficult to spot and correct typing errors and complicating routines. It takes a lot of energy to type for Jordan, and if he uses a lot of energy, the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease will be more pronounced later in the day. He prefers to use a tablet, but there are obstacles such as inaccessible password managers preventing him from logging into a variety of different tools. He will often have to resort to asking family for help which affects his sense of value self-esteem.  

Kirsty: Neurodiversity and WCAG A woman smiling at the camera, behind her are two computer screens displaying code

Kirsty is a computer science master's graduate with ADHD and dyslexia.

Kirsty experiences emotional dysregulation and concentration difficulties. Although she spends a lot of time building assistive technology for people with a broad range of conditions, inaccessible digital content can still result in causing her emotional dysregulation which in turn affects her executive functions including memory and attention.

So, Kirsty can end up miss-clicking buttons, and become emotionally and cognitively drained, which affects her other activities throughout the day.

As we explore their experiences, we'll see how WCAG 2.2 guidelines can positively impact their interactions with digital content. 

WCAG 2.2 Guidelines in Action 

2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) and 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) 

The Focus Not Obscured success criteria aim to enhance web accessibility for sighted users who rely on keyboard navigation, by ensuring that no interactive component or its focus indicator is partially or fully obscured by other content on the page. Graphic of a keyboard

Jordan started to use the keyboard a lot more rather than the mouse because of the physical effects of his Parkinson's. Kirsty uses keyboard shortcuts a lot because it helps her to concentrate and focus on a task. 

So, for users like Jordan and Kirsty who rely on keyboard navigation, having a clear focus is crucial. Guidelines ensuring that focused elements are not obscured by overlays or banners contribute significantly to a smoother user experience.  

2.4.13 Focus Appearance 

The Focus Appearance success criterion makes it easier to spot the keyboard focus by using a focus indicator of sufficient size and contrast.

The width and colour contrast of the focus indicator become vital for users like Kirsty, with a shorter attention span. Ensuring a noticeable focus appearance aid in navigating digital interfaces seamlessly. 

2.5.7 Dragging Movements and 2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) Four arrows pointing in different directions

Considering the physical challenges Jordan faces due to Parkinson's, the Dragging Movements criterion helps as it ensures ana single pointer alternative for functions requiring dragging movements.

The minimum target size set by the Target Size criterion make it easier to avoid accidentally clicking on the wrong button ensuring a more frustration-free experience. 

3.3.7 Redundant Entry and 3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) 

The Redundant Entry criterion reduces frustration and physical strain by allowing users to avoid repetitive data input. The Accessible Authentication criterion means individuals are not required to memorise their details, transcribe passwords, or complete other types of cognitive tests to authenticate their identity or similar details.

Both criteria provide support for those with cognitive impairments or neurodivergence like Kirsty, who may struggle with memory-related tasks. 

3.2.6 Consistent Help 

The introduction of the Consistent Help criterion ensure consistent placement of help mechanisms across web pages, benefiting both Jordan and Kirsty, enabling them to find assistance easily and reducing the mental effort required to navigate through various sections. 

WCAG 2.2’s impact on disabled people 

Implementing WCAG 2.2 translates into tangible benefits for users like Jordan and Kirsty. Reducing redundant entries and ensuring accessible authentication empower them to use technology more independently.

Clear focus, larger target sizes, and consistent help placements alleviate frustration, making day-to-day activities less exhausting.

Each criterion plays a crucial role in addressing specific challenges faced by a wide variety of users. 

WCAG 2.2 and user testing 

By implementing these guidelines and conducting user testing, researchers can uncover nuanced experiences and barriers, enriching their findings. This approach provides a more holistic understanding of user interactions, ensuring that accessibility is not just an abstract concept, but a tangible improvement in the lives of your users.A checklist icon with a person sitting at a desk with a clipboard in front of them

WCAG 2.2 goes beyond a checklist; it has a tangible impact on individuals like Jordan and Kirsty, enhancing their digital experiences.

By seamlessly integrating accessibility and usability, you can move closer to a gold standard where technology empowers users, fostering confidence and independence. 

Learn more about user testing 

Ready to conduct successful inclusive user testing?

We make sure that you ask the right people the right questions at the right time and make the best use of their feedback. Find out how to get the most from your user research budget.

Enquire about our user testing service

 

This blog is a loose transcription of our expert accessibility consultants Ashley Peacock and Claire Poste’s TechShare Pro 2023 Lunch and Learn recording about Humanising WCAG 2.2. Watch the full recording below. 

Congratulations on 20 years volunteering with AbilityNet!

Mick Simmons sitting on armchair with desk showing framed certificate alongside himMick Simmons, has been providing valuable free IT support to older people and disabled people of any age in his Reading region for TWENTY YEARS, as part of our free IT Support at Home service (also available online)!

Asked about his experience as an AbilityNet Tech Volunteer over the past 20 years, Mick said: "Technology over the last 20 years has changed dramatically and has brought new challenges. But there are fun moments and volunteering is always rewarding."

We want to say a hearty congratulations and thank you to Mick for all his hard work and support for people in his area. What a magnificent achievement.

Why volunteer with AbilityNet?

We're always keen to welcome new tech volunteers to AbilityNet's IT Support at Home service. If you're reading this and would like to get involved, please get in contact.

Some recent comments from clients who have been supported:

  • “Incredible help from someone who really knows what he is doing. Nothing was too much trouble.”
  • “I was really impressed, Alfie was so quick and helped us so much. We can't thank you enough.” 
  • “My tutor was cheerful, encouraging and intuitive, sensing I was extremely nervous and lacking in confidence.” 
  • “Your colleague was polite, knowledgeable, and very patient. She explained several things to me with good humour. I am enormously grateful for this help." 

Become an AbilityNet volunteer

 

Illustration showing three people with information bubbles outlining key data. Text reads Who we have helped and how: Individuals. 1,699,021 online, 3,533 people at home, 1,131 people in groups, 2,867 employeesHighlighting AbilityNet's impact 2023

Key facts from our Impact Report 2023

Our impact on individuals:

  • 95% Customer satisfaction
  • 81% better able to use technology
  • 77% easier to manage day to day life
  • 59% greater participation in new activities
  • 85% more knowledgeable
  • 85% increased confidence
  • 76% more independent
  • 75% less stressed
  • 70% less isolated

“I was in a desperate mess with my IT, I found the service very supportive, extremely patient and ongoing tailored to my needs. It is good to know there is help out there.” - Client who received free technology support

How AbilityNet can help

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people, and their carers.

AbilityNet Live! Free events about technology and disability

AbilityNet live logo

AbilityNet is a series of live online events to help share useful information for disabled people and their carers and employers.

See below for details, as well as recordings of past events

Calendar

    Free webinar: How AI can help disabled people

    • On Wednesday 17 April at 1pm BST

    Register for AI webinar

    Free webinar: Dementia and simple tech tweaks that can help

    • On Wednesday 10 July at 1pm BST

    Register for the dementia webinar

    Watch this space or sign up for our newsletter to receive notifications about our latest webinars and training courses.

     

    Need expert training in digital accessibility?

    Our affordable online training courses can help you and your team.

    Past events

    View a recording of the event, plus slides and notes including 

     Tips for using tech at home

    Digital discovery at any age: your guide to the online world

    • Delivered Wednesday 28 February 

    Tech Tools for Dyslexia at work, in education and at home

    • Delivered Tuesday 3 October 2023

    Top tips for boosting your digital skills

    • Delivered Tuesday 12 September 2023

    How volunteering can benefit you or your organisation

    • Delivered Tuesday 6 June 2023

    Multiple Sclerosis: How technology can support you

    • Delivered Tuesday 25 April 2023

    Top tips for how tech can help with hearing loss

    • Delivered Tuesday 20 September 2022

    Cost of living crisis and how digital can help

    • Delivered Tuesday 20 September 2022

    Technology to help people with sight loss - with RNIB and Envision

    • Delivered Tuesday 28 June 2022

    How technology can help people with Parkinson's

    • Delivered 8 March 2022

    Top tips for dyslexia and technology

    • Delivered 5 October 2021

    Smart homes, tech tips for independent living at home

    • Delivered 01 June 2021

    Technology and dementia: a creative approach

    • Delivered 1pm, 25 May 2021

    Technology help for people with learning disabilities

    • Delivered 1pm, 27 April 2021

    Tablets for seniors, keep in touch with loved ones during Covid-19

    • Delivered, 26 January 2021

    How to spot an online scam and avoid it: Stay safe online

    • Delivered 24 November 2020

    Using tech to tackle loneliness and isolation

    • Delivered 30 June 2020

    Meeting neurodiverse needs during the pandemic

    • Delivered 16 June 2020

    Working with neurodiversity, is the new normal here to stay?

    • Delivered 09 June 2020

    How disabled people can use Alexa and other smart speakers to stay connected

    • Delivered 19 May

    How to take care of your mental health while working or studying from home

    • Delivered 12 May 2020

    How to access online learning to stay motivated and learn new skills

    • Delivered 5 May 2020

    How to stay safe online

    • Delivered 27 April 2020

    How to find local support groups online

    • Delivered 14 April 2020

    How to run accessible online meetings - Zoom, Teams and more

    • Delivered 8 April 2020

    How tech can help you stay connected 

    • Delivered 7 April 2020
       

    Digital accessibility tips

    Free webinar: Building Your Accessibility Capability: In-house Skills vs External Suppliers

    • Delivered: Tuesday 19 March 2024

    Free webinar: What's new in WCAG 2.2 

    • Delivered: Wednesday 31 January 2024

    Free webinar: Attitudes to accessibility are changing - a global perspective

    • Delivered: Tuesday 31 October 2023

    Free webinar: How will Artificial Intelligence change accessibility testing?

    • Delivered: Tuesday 26th September 2023

    Free webinar: How to improve accessibility in procurement

    • Delivered: Tuesday 27th June 2023

    Free webinar: Inclusive employee experience in the finance and insurance sector with Lloyds Banking Group

    • Delivered: Tuesday 28 March 2023

    Don't disable me: how organisational culture and equipment enables inclusion

    • Delivered: Tuesday 18 October 2022

    How accessibility improves SEO

    • Delivered Tuesday 27 September 2022

    Inclusive and Accessible Learning and Working in a Post Covid World

    • Delivered Tuesday 19 July 2022

    How leaders can build a culture of empathy

    • Delivered 24 May 2022 

    Employee support and adjustments in the age of Covid

    • Delivered 26 April 2022

    Don't disable me: How you can avoid creating barriers for disabled people

    • Declivered 8 February 2022

    How to get online for FREE or at a low-cost: digital divide

    • Delivered 17 January 2022

    How to recognise and promote a neurodiverse workforce

    • Delivered 14 December 2021

    How to create an inclusive workplace

    • Delivered 28 September 2021

    The Business Case for Accessibility

    • Delivered 20 July 2021

    Introduction to digital accessibility

    • Delivered 01 July 2021

    How to excel at inclusive onboarding and induction in the workplace

    • Delivered 29 June 2021

    Dementia-friendly design, expert tips for accessible websites

    • Delivered 18 May 2021

    How to do inclusive, accessible recruitment 

    • Delivered 2 March 2021

    How to do accessible social media

    • Delivered 20 October 2020

    How technology can help people with dyslexia

    • Delivered 29 September 2020

    Accessibility Anti-Patterns

    • Delivered 18 August 2020

    Accessible design tips for a competitive edge

    • Delivered 14 July 2020
       

    Accessibility Insights with key practitioners working in accessibility

    Accesssibility Insights with David Padmore and Matt Simpson of ITV

    • Tuesday 13 December 2022

    Accessibility Insights with Natalie Tucker of Spotify

    • Tuesday 1 November 2022

    Accessibility Insights with Heather Dowdy of Netflix

    • Date: Tuesday 04 October 2022

    Accessibility Insights with Hector Minto of Microsoft

    • Date: Tuesday 13 September 2022

    Accessibility Insights with Xbox at Microsoft

    • Delivered Tuesday 7 December 2021

    Accessibility Insights with Intuit

    • Delivered Tuesday 9 November 2021

    Accessibility Insights with Workbridge

    • Delivered 12 October 2021

    Accessibility Insights with Funka and the IAAP

    • Delivered 7 September 2021

    Accessibility Insights with British Heart Foundation

    • Delivered 10 August 2021

    Accessibility Insights with the UK Government

    • Delivered 06 July 2021

    Accessibility Insights with Larry Goldberg of Verizon Media

    • Delivered 08 June 2021

    Accessibility Insights with GAAD co-founders

    • Delivered 4 May 2021

    Accessibility Insights with the BBC

    • Delivered 6 April 2021

    Accessibility Insights with Apple: February 2021

    • Delivered 16 February 2021

    Accessibility Insights with the European Disability Forum: January 2021

    • Delivered 19 January 2021

    Accessibility Insights with Malin Rygg of the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency

    • Delivered 8 December 2020

    Accessibility Insights with Christopher Patnoe of Google

    • Delivered 10 November 2020

    Accessibility Insights with Bryn Anderson of Sainsbury's

    • Delivered 6 October 2020

    Accessibility Insights with Paul Smyth of Barclays

    • Delivered 8 September 2020

    Accessibility Insights with Neil Milliken

    • Delivered 11 August 2020

    Accessibility Insights with Microsoft's Jenny Lay-Flurrie

    • Delivered 21 July 2020
       

    HE and Public Sector accessibility

    Free Webinar: Higher Education PSBAR Accessibility Requirements

    • Delivered 7 February 2023

    HE/Public Sector Update: Addressing Autism, Dyslexia, and Neurodivergence in education and work

    • Delivered 22 March 2022

    HE/Public Sector Update with the University of Southampton

    • Delivered 2 November 2021

    HE/Public Sector update: Accessibility dos and don'ts with Susi Miller 

    • Delivered 22 June 2021

    HE/Public Sector update: Promoting Accessibility, with University of Derby

    • Delivered 13 April 2021

    HE/Public Sector Update: How Cardiff Metropolitan University meets accessibility targets

    • Delivered 23 February 2021

    HE/Public Sector Update: Winning hearts and minds at University of Cambridge

    • Delivered 1 December 2020

    HE/Public Sector Update: Excelling in Digital Accessibility at Open University

    • Delivered 22 September 2020

    HE/Public Sector Update: Is your Accessibility Statement ready yet?

    • Delivered 23 July 2020

    HE Update and Accessibility Maturity Model for Higher and Further Education

    • Delivered 27 May

     

    Looking for more help?

    How to contact us

    Google welcomes AbilityNet Tech Volunteers to its research lab

    Exterior of Google's Accessibility Discovery Centre in London - glass building with colourful lego large pictures on displayA group of AbilityNet Tech Volunteers were warmly welcomed to the Google Accessibility Discovery Centre in London earlier this month, for an exclusive tour led by Google's Senior UX Engineer, Gurmukh Panesar.

    The volunteers had the opportunity to explore the centre, which opened in 2022, and engage in thought-provoking discussions and questions surrounding accessibility. The centre assists Google's engineers and researchers to consider the technology access barriers faced by disabled individuals.

    "It was an insightful and inspiring experience for all involved, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for the importance of inclusive design. Thank you to Google for this enriching opportunity," says AbilityNet's Chris Grant, who attended the session.

    Amazing insight into the Google world of accessibility

    AbilityNet's volunteers were able to learn more about some of the assistive technologies that can help those they are supporting in their communities.

    Braille lego board"I had the opportunity to explore a space dedicated to collaborating, co-designing, and learning with the accessibility and disability communities.

    The centre showcased remarkable technologies tailored to various disability types, including visual, hearing, mental, and physical impairments, highlighting Google's commitment to addressing the specific needs of different disability communities," says AbilityNet Tech Volunteer, Ahmad Aladawi.

    Hearing and 'Dexterity and cognitive' lab desks with lots of digital devices on display on a desk"The tour was engaging and thought-provoking, emphasising the importance of inclusive technology and innovation in reshaping the landscape of accessibility.

    "I was particularly impressed by the advancements in each area, ranging from screen readers and magnification features to smart lights and captioning, as well as cognitive assistance tools and personalised prompts.

    "The visit reinforced the significance of leveraging technology to create a more equitable and accessible world for all, and I look forward to seeing similar centres in UK universities and institutions," continues Ahmad.

    A trio of Google centres around the world

    3 people in a room of arcade games 'ADC Arcade'“I was excited to have this opportunity as I have heard a lot about this place. It did not disappoint as each type of disability was covered. There were several apps that will prove to be useful. There was also a space for disabled people to try out and test Google’s technologies. I would recommend anyone to have a visit.  I understand this one of only three Google centres in the world - one in California, one in New York and this one." - Myles Pilling, AbilityNet volunteer.

    "The visit to Google was a great tour. Not only did we get to network with fellow volunteer, iIt was an amazing insight into the Google world of accessibility. If you get the chance to see it I would recommend attending." - Leanne Newell, AbilityNet volunteer.

    Photos courtesy of AbilityNet Tech Volunteer Mark Mugglestone.

    Learn more about AbilityNet Tech Volunteers

    Find out more about the work of AbilityNet Tech Volunteers in our film that provides an insight into their varied and rewarding roles. Meet Jo, Greg and Jordan:

    Download the transcript of the video [Word doc].

    Jordan Rosser, smiling outside a house, wearing AbilityNet lanyard"I've grown up with technology and sometimes you forget that there's people that haven't, especially the older generation. Something that might seem trivial to yourself can make a huge difference to somebody who's never used a computer. And it really does. You can see it in their eyes, when they've accomplished things themselves - that smile and that energy you get from them is really rewarding, and I absolutely love it." - Jordan Rosser, AbilityNet Tech Volunteer.

    Become a volunteer with AbilityNet

    Our volunteers make such a difference to the lives of disabled and older people in our communities. Can you join our community of 450+ amazing volunteers across the UK, and help support older people and disabled people with their technology? 

    Volunteer with us 

    If you work for an organisation that is interested in developing its volunteering programme, visit our Corporate Social Responsibility information to find out more and learn how to become a partner with AbilityNet.

    By supporting AbilityNet, you can help ensure disabled people aren't excluded from the digital world. 

    More resources on volunteering and Google

    AbilityNet Factsheet - February 2024

    Technical help and training resources

    Although using and interacting with information technology (IT) is becoming increasingly intuitive, it is not a natural process and therefore, some level of training will be needed for anyone. Training is also the most efficient way to improve confidence and encourage further independent learning.

    AbilityNet provides free IT support to help older people and disabled people to use technology to achieve their goals. We have a network of friendly volunteers who can help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones. Currently, we are providing all of our support remotely.

    We are often asked about teaching and training on computer skills, this factsheet provides the details of the companies, charities, and government initiatives that can provide this.

    Last updated: February 2024

    Although using and interacting with information technology (IT) is becoming increasingly intuitive, it is not a natural process and therefore, some level of training will be needed for anyone. Training is also the most efficient way to improve confidence and encourage further independent learning. AbilityNet provides free IT support to help older people and disabled people to use technology to achieve their goals. We have a network of friendly volunteers who can help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones. Currently, we are providing all of our support remotely. We are often asked about teaching and training on computer skills, this factsheet provides the details of the companies, charities, and government initiatives that can provide this.
    Was this content helpful?
    AbilityNet Factsheet - February 2024

    How to use a smart speaker to make a home more accessible for disabled people

    Smart speakers and connected devices can make your home more accessible if you're a disabled or older person. We explain what devices are available and how to make the most of them.

    Last updated: February 2024

    Smart speakers and connected devices can make your home more accessible if you're a disabled or older person. We explain what devices are available and how to make the most of them.
    Was this content helpful?

    8 reasons why your user testing is failing

    User testing, also known as usability testing, plays a pivotal role in ensuring that digital products are accessible and user-friendly for a diverse audience. When usability testing uncovers problems, it's essential to delve into the specific reasons behind the shortcomings. 

    AbilityNet specialises in user research involving disabled and older users, who may experience specific barriers in accessing the digital environment. Our expert accessibility consultants have encountered various challenges that shed light on potential user experience issues. 

    In this blog, we delve into eight common issues identified during user testing, aiming to foster a better understanding of user needs and improve overall digital inclusivity. 

    8 common issues identified in user testing 

    Mismatched Journey FlowsGraphic of a person holding a pen and notepad

    Usability is impacted when there is a discrepancy between participants' expectations and the actual journey flows within a system.

    Confusion and frustration arise when processes do not align with users' perceptions, impacting the overall user experience. Failure to understand and address these mismatches leads to interfaces that are not intuitive and user-friendly.

    Assistive Technology Communication 

    Despite being designed to enhance accessibility, our testing has revealed instances where assistive technologies, such as screen readers, failed to communicate information effectively. This is usually not linked to the assistive technology itself but results from code that has not been written with accessibility in mind. This highlights the importance of ensuring compatibility and seamless interaction for users relying on assistive tools.

    True usability or inclusive design demands effective communication and navigation for all users. User testing with assistive technology users is a great way to achieve this.  

    Challenges with Interactive Elements

    Interactive elements, like forms and sliders, can pose difficulties for individuals with motor challenges.

    It's vital to design these components with accessibility in mind, ensuring that all users, regardless of physical abilities, can navigate and interact with them comfortably. Without such considerations, user testing results may reflect usability issues that exclude a portion of the user base.

    Interested in learning the key stages of AbilityNet’s diverse user testing process? Read our blog on User Testing Unveiled: A Step-by-Step Exploration.


    Colour Preferences and Vision ImpairmentsThree circles that intersect each other, with each circle representing a different primary colour

    Participants often exhibit strong colour preferences or dislikes, particularly in cases of vision impairments where the wrong colour combination can prevent users from reading content. 

    Designing interfaces that accommodate these preferences while adhering to accessibility standards for colour contrast ensures a more inclusive and personalised user experience. User testing must account for diverse visual needs to truly reflect the potential user experience.

    Cognitive Accessibility Challenges 

    Even when content meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) criteria, some participants faced further accessibility challenges due to cognitive differences.

    Addressing cognitive aspects involves creating content that is not only technically compliant but also easily comprehensible and navigable for users with varying cognitive abilities. Successful user testing requires a holistic approach to accessibility that includes cognitive considerations.


    Time Constraints and Task Completion

    Participants expressing the need for more time or alternative task completion methods highlight issues with task complexity. Ask yourself, can this task be simplified? Users can often tell you what could make it more straightforward and this will help everyone.

    Streamlining processes and providing flexibility in task completion can significantly enhance the usability of a system, catering to a wider range of user abilities and preferences. Time constraints should not be a barrier; rather, they should be considered in the design and testing processes.

    Ambiguous Errors and TooltipsGraphic of two mobile phones - one displaying the letter 'A', the other displaying the letter 'B'

    Despite meeting WCAG criteria, errors and tooltips can prove unclear or unhelpful for some users.

    Clear and concise communication in error messages and tooltips is essential to guide users effectively, preventing frustration and ensuring a smooth user experience. User testing should scrutinise these micro-interactions to guarantee a seamless journey for all users.

    Physical Accessibility Concerns

    Physical limitations, such as difficulty accessing machines or requiring specific dexterity and stamina, have been identified in our usability testing.

    Addressing these physical barriers involves designing products that consider the diverse physical capabilities of users, promoting inclusivity and usability for all. User testing should encompass a comprehensive evaluation of physical accessibility barriers to ensure no user is left behind.


    User testing serves as a valuable process to gain insights into user experiences, enabling designers and developers to enhance their products for a more diverse audience.

    By addressing the challenges highlighted in this blog - ranging from mismatched journey flows to physical accessibility concerns, paves the way for more inclusive and user-friendly design.

    The key to successful user testing lies in a commitment to accessibility, ensuring that every user, regardless of their abilities or preferences, can navigate and interact seamlessly with digital interfaces. This means including a diverse range of users in your testing sessions.

    Ready to conduct successful inclusive user testing?

    We make sure that you ask the right people the right questions at the right time and make the best use of their feedback. Find out how to get the most from your user research budget.

    Enquire about our user testing service

     

    How do I do user testing myself?  

    Knowing how to conduct user testing yourself can give you the reassurance that you are making accessibility improvements and focusing your resources in the right areas. You can learn how to begin your own accessibility testing on our online training course.

    How the internet can help combat winter loneliness

    Computer with smiling older people on it in a group online callAbilityNet has partnered with Broadband Genie, a consumer comparison site for broadband, to highlight the importance of connecting elderly people online to help combat loneliness. 

    According to a survey conducted by Broadband Genie* in January with more than 1000 people in the UK over 65 years old, two fifths (41%) of the UK’s pensioners say they are reliant on their internet connection to stay in touch with loved ones.

    A fifth (20%) admit to feeling lonelier during the winter months, and a further 39% of those surveyed say they depend on the internet for entertainment.

    Loneliness at its peak in the winter

    The research reveals how internet usage is increasing among older people as a means to prevent them from becoming isolated, as a third (35%) of over 65s polled say they spend more time on their own during this colder time of the year. 

    And almost half (46%) of over 75s surveyed admit they spend at least five hours a day in front of their TVs for comfort.

    Birmingham is the loneliest location

    Results from the survey show that the loneliest location for pensioners in the UK is Birmingham, where more than a quarter of older people (26%) report feeling more isolated in the colder months, with 32% saying that they spend more time alone during this season.

    Sarah BrainSarah Brain (pictured), Free Services Manager at AbilityNet comments:

    “In today's digital era, a significant portion of life unfolds online. Research indicates that older people, compared to other age groups, are less likely to engage regularly with digital devices or the internet. 

    “Elderly people in Birmingham were revealed to feel the most isolated in winter. The city is an area of focus for AbilityNet and our Senior Skills Digital Training, in collaboration with BT Group.

    “As a charity we are committed to ensuring everyone can access technology. Our experience has revealed that older individuals facing digital exclusion—those who seldom or never go online—often grapple with a combination of low confidence, low skills, and a lack of motivation, and this is true for those with and without affordability issues. 

    “It is crucial to provide those who wish to learn with access to reliable, trusted sources of support and information. AbilityNet's helpline and dedicated volunteers are ready to assist older individuals in enhancing their digital skills. By doing so, we aim to simplify day-to-day tasks, foster easier connectivity with friends and family, and keep them abreast of the latest news and entertainment.”

    Older man and woman smiling looking at laptopFree webinar: Digital discovery: your guide to the online world with BT Group and Amazon

    Enjoy a digitally connected life in your guide to becoming tech savvy in your senior years - or at any age. Learn about how digital devices can help, not hinder, your life experiences, including using Amazon Alexa and Echo devices.

    If you work for an organisation that helps older people, the resources we share in the webinar can also be used to help clients you support, so bring along a group!

    Join a FREE webinar on Wednesday 28 February 2024 between 1pm - 2pm GMT.


    Register for the webinar

    Free digital support available

    With results showing that a third of over 65s (32%) spend more than three hours on a laptop or computer every day and 69% use social media as a way to keep themselves occupied, it's not necessarily surprising that landlines are now being used less than in previous years.

    Six-out-of-ten (61%) of over 65s polled report that they no longer use a landline, and 37% use it less than an hour a day.

    Jordan. young man volunteering for AbilityNet standing outside a house smiling, wearing lanyardWith changes to landlines being rolled out across the country in the coming years, it will become more important for all to have a working broadband connection. A key issue to address as part of this change is to ensure that elderly people are taught digital skills to use the internet effectively to meet their needs.

    While reliance on internet connectivity becomes increasingly vital for the wellbeing of older people, over three quarters (78%) of British pensioners are still unaware of social tariffs to help get them connected, despite many being eligible for the savings.

    One of AbilityNet's charity activities is to provide free support to older people to boost digital skills and offer help with devices, so do get in contact to find out how our dedicated Tech Volunteers (like Jordan pictured, right) can help you or your loved ones. 

    Internet is a powerful antidote to isolation

    Alex Tofts, streaming expert at Broadband Genie, comments: “The need to keep older generations connected cannot be overstated as so many use the internet to keep in touch with loved ones. 

    “Loneliness among seniors is a pressing concern, with profound implications for mental and emotional well-being. For many, the internet serves as a bridge to social interactions, virtual communities, and diverse forms of entertainment. 

    “By promoting accessibility through broadband social tariffs, providers empower the elderly to stay engaged, connected, and remain active participants in the digital age.

    “The partnership between Broadband Genie and AbilityNet recognises that the internet has the potential to be a powerful antidote to social isolation. Ensuring older consumers have the confidence and skills to go online is crucial.

    “Another barrier to connectivity is the cost, which is why Broadband Genie is calling on broadband providers to actively sign up more eligible pensioners to affordable social tariffs.”

    How can I get help developing digital skills?

    AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logo

    If you're over 65 years of age and looking to build your skills, we're offering free digital skills sessions in areas in and around London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. 

    Trainers can build something bespoke for your group or for an individual and run sessions including:

    • Getting to know your Smartphone or Tablet
    • Staying Safer Online
    • Getting started with Email
    • Using Social Media, e.g. Facebook
    • Online entertainment, e.g. watching TV online
    • How to access Public Services e.g. Gov.UK
    • How to make a video call
    • How to manage your health online
    • How to bank online

    Attend a free session

    If you live in another area in the UK, get in touch and we can link you with one of our 450+ Tech Volunteers around the country.

    How to boost your online skills: free learner factsheets

    Make the most out of life in a digital world using this range of factsheets and other resources build online skills and confidence.  


    Download your factsheets
     


    How AbilityNet can help

    *Broadband Genie research into streaming habits conducted by Censuswide from 10th to 15th January 2024 using a survey of 1,010 respondents aged 65+ weighted to be nationally representative.

    **Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls.

    Learn from disabled people about how you should adjust your working practices

    Many employers want support disabled people in their workplace but don't know where to start. They may not know who to ask, or what to provide. And many people are scared to ask as they worry they'll say the wrong thing.

    Don't Disable Me is AbilityNet's series of training courses that introduce people with a disability who explain their experience of trying to be productive in the workplace. It's a great way to hear from people with personal experience, and to ask them the questions you never knew how to ask.

    Listen to the lived experience of disabled people 

    "The best online training session I have attended. Thanks for such a great session - lots of tips to take away. It was great to hear Adi's perspective as an assistive technology user."

    That's the feedback from an attendee of one of our training sessions designed to highlight the barriers that disabled people experience.

    Adi Latif on mobile phone

    A focus on disability inclusion in the workplace is a strategic imperative from a moral, legal and commercial standpoint. AbilityNet's 'Don't Disable Me' series offers a deep dive into the experiences of people of living with different disabilities and impairments.

    The sessions focus on visual impairment, hearing loss, physical disabilities, mental health and neurodiversity barriers. By talking to the course leaders you will learn more about their needs and start to identify the best way to build a workplace that is inclusive by design, using technology to enable all employees to perform at their best.

    Speak to us about booking a group course for your team.

    Book a group training course

    'Don't Disable Me' courses 

    Led by individuals with lived experience of disabilities, and AbilityNet’s workplace inclusion experts, in the courses you'll learn about the common barriers that people encounter at work, in study and in day-to-day life.

    You'll also find out more about the kinds of assistive technologies and tools that people use to overcome these barriers and the steps that everyone can take to avoid creating barriers in the first place. 

    The courses are interactive and practical. They include real-life stories to help articulate how employing the social model of disability at your workplace or education institution can lead to a working or learning environment that embraces and welcomes everyone and is inclusive by design. 

    Need accessibility training for your team?


    Get 10 training online courses for the price of 8

     

    Other HR and workplace-related courses that you might be interested in:

    Find out how we can help you build a culture where everyone belongs:

    Download a workplace services brochure


    Further resources

    AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people. If you can afford it, please donate to help us support older and disabled people through technology

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