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Re: Recruiting assistive technology users for usability testing

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From: Karl Groves
Date: Apr 20, 2010 3:57PM


Angela,

Human Resources people will (and for good cause, IMO) have a strongly
negative reaction to such requests. I've seen this quite a bit, actually.
Even though you know you're only asking this sort of thing so your client
can better serve employees with disabilities, the HR staff sees this as a
huge risk for employee complaints from multiple fronts. Consequently, you
should expect that any requests for lists of employees with disabilities
will gain no traction from HR at all.

Some of this is venturing into legal territory, so take what I say with
the understanding that it is coming only from being in the same situation
before and also from being married to an HR Manager with the PHR
Certification from SHRM, but not from any legal expertise of any kind.

I see you having two options:

1) Send out a "Call for participants" to the company's internal
distribution channels and word it in such a way that you're clear about
being interested in testing for usability AND accessibility. Phrases
such as "users of assistive technology" are still a no-no here, as it
still puts the focus on the disabled employees and will get the HR people
unhappy. Instead just keep it broadly worded. The catch here is that you
have to keep this entire process as fair as possible. This isn't just
about the HR department's fears of having complaints from employees with
disabilities but also complaints of reverse discrimination as well (they'd
say you're showing bias towards the employees with disabilities). In some
ways, doing a study of usability and accessibility at the same time helps
you maintain fairness. Note: sending an open recruiting notice but in the
end using only users of assistive technologies will be a bias. Using a
mix of participants just like any other study where you're recruiting
participants who fit in with some pre-defined personas is the way to go
here.

2) Recruit outsiders. The quickest and easiest way to avoid having the HR
people get upset is to recruit outside participants because in a case like
this the whole context changes. No longer are you dealing with issues
relating to work environments. With outsiders you can explicitly recruit,
for example, people with very specific types of disabilities and/ or
assistive technologies without getting into legal hot water.

Hope this helps.


Karl


> -----Original Message-----
> From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto:webaim-forum-
> <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Angela Colter
> Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 12:49 PM
> To: WebAIM Discussion List
> Subject: [WebAIM] Recruiting assistive technology users for usability
> testing
>
> I'm working on a usability testing project for a large financial
> services
> company and I'd like to include company employees who are assistive
> technology users in our group of participants.
>
> Problem is, the Human Resources department has, in the past, frowned on
> asking these employees to participate because HR doesn't want them to
> be
> "singled out."
>
> I'm wondering if any of you have experiences dealing with getting
> permission
> from a company's HR department to involve employees with disabilities
> in
> your usability testing efforts.
>
> Thanks for any advice you have to share.
>
> Angela
>
> --
> Angela Colter
> Usability Consultant
> 215-921-6677
>
> Web: http://www.angelacolter.com
> Twitter: @angelacolter
>