Accessibility: Understanding the end users

On several occasions recently I have been asked about how I fully understand the benefits of accessibility for the end users when I don’t have a disability. It’s a question that has been lingering in my mind for a while. I know that I will never fully understand all types of disabilities but there are ways in which we can all gain a better understanding of these users.

Volunteering hands image

Disability organisations are nearly always looking for volunteers, even if it’s only 2 hours per week on your lunch. Try looking for drop in centres or charities in your area and get in touch with them to see if you can volunteer or even just drop by for an hour.

User testing

user testing

When you are thinking about the user groups you need to recruit for user testing include people with different impairments. Research the charities, organisations, people or companies that could aid finding the users you need. Finding these users will be difficult at first but an organisation will be more willing to help you if you have already worked with them to recruit participants.




There’s loads of cool ebooks, podcasts and videos that can help with understanding accessibility and people with disabilities. Below are just a few that I’ve found recently (add more cool stuff in the comments!):


Events / exhibitions 

speaking up speaking out art show

Speaking up speaking out (SUSO) is a self-help group for adults with learning disabilities and they have a drop-in centre in Macclesfield which is open 4 days a week. A few weeks ago I was invited to an event that was held by SUSO at the ArtSpace in Macclesfield. This event was aimed at challenging misperceptions of learning disability by asking the people who come to the drop-in centre how they feel they are seen by others. Going to the event was very insightful for me and helped me to understand

The website for Speaking up Speaking out:



Another way in which we can try to understand users with disabilities is by using the same technology. Whenever I need to test the keyboard accessibility on a website I will load up NVDA screenreader, turn of my monitor and try to navigate around the website. Or, if I want to understand the affects of colour blindness I use the NoCoffee Chrome add-on. Using the same technology can aid our understanding of how different technologies interact with our websites.

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