About the Accessibility Testing Participant Pool
The Accessibility Testing Participant Pool was created in 2016 with funding from a Harvard PAIF grant. The pool is comprised of proficient assistive technology users who may be hired to test Harvard digital products. Assistive technology includes tools such as screen readers, screen magnification software, and alternative input devices. Once sufficient internal accessibility testing is completed by staff members themselves, pool members may be hired by staff members to test Harvard digital products for accessibility. Using the participant pool for moderated accessibility/usability testing provides feedback above and beyond meeting baseline accessibility standards.
There is a nominal fee for using the service and compensating participants. You must have a 33-digit billing string in order to use the participant pool or expert reviews.
Who can test with the pool?
Any staff at Harvard who are working on a digital product and have completed the requirements below. he requirements are necessary so that baseline accessibility standards are met before testing with users.
Before requesting to use the participant pool
1. Use an automated testing tool and correct any problems. (REQUIRED)
Automated testing tools validate your site's markup against WCAG guidelines. Popular automated testing tools include:
- WAVE. Available as a free browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. Download the WAVE browser extension.
- SiteImprove or AMP. Both tools are available through HUIT. Read more about these tools or request an account.
More resources about digital accessibility at Harvard are available at: accessibility.huit.harvard.edu
2. Test the site on your own using assistive technology, such as JAWS and ZoomText and corrected any problems. (RECOMMENDED)
The URC provides access to JAWS, VoiceOver, ZoomText, and NVDA on in-lab computers and loaner laptops. You can request to book the space to test with assistive technology in the lab yourself or borrow a laptop that has assistive technology installed. Please note that lab bookings must be made a minimum of 2 weeks in advance, and equipment must be booked a minimum of 72 hours in advance.
3. Meet with an accessibility consultant and reviewed your product for basic digital accessibility compliance and corrected any problems. (REQUIRED*)
You will need to meet with a staff expert in digital accessibility to review your product and possibly conduct an expert review. Request an appointment with Harvard Web Publishing for a consultation. Please note consultations may be limited due to demand.
*Note: If you have personal experience and expertise in testing with assistive technology users, you may be able to skip a formal consultation.
4. Request an Expert Review of your digital product (RECOMMENDED)
Request a proficient JAWS user to review core functionality provided by product owner or other project point person. We recommend working with an accessibility consultant first before scheduling an Expert Review. Request an Expert Review.
Request to use the pool
If you have completed the above requirements, you may request to use the pool using the online request form. A cost estimate will be provided once a request is received. Requests are responded to in 2-3 business days.