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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Inclusive User Research to Support Inclusive Design

Date & Time
Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 4:20 PM PST  
Platinum 7-8  

The practice of inclusive design fundamentally needs to be supported with user research that includes with people with disabilities. Including people with disabilities in research is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. It leads to products that are more inclusive, accessible, usable, and generally more delightful for everyone. However, there are many challenges organizations face when trying to integrate people with disabilities into their existing user testing and user research practices. Drawing from our own experiences developing an accessibility-oriented user research program at CVS Health, this presentation will explore the pragmatic and strategic hurdles UX researchers must pass in order to make their research, and thus their designs, more inclusive.

Accessibility-oriented user research is not the same as accessibility testing or auditing, but it does complement those processes. User testing aims to answer questions about the usability of a design and measure the quality of a user’s experience when interacting with that design. User research, on the other hand, more broadly addresses the foundational questions that may precede the creation of a design, inform iteration, or challenge designers to rethink their prior assumptions. Such deep insights are particularly important when designing for people with disabilities and people who use assistive technology. It is possible, and common, to create something that complies with WCAG but that is not useful or usable for people with disabilities or for those who use assistive technologies. User research can help us better understand the barriers and pain points people with disabilities face when engaging with our digital experiences, but only if they are actually included in the research process.

By integrating people with disabilities into our user research practices at CVS Health, we have been able to identify and challenge assumptions about user behaviors, discover strategies for engaging with digital designs, and work to build empathy across our design and leadership teams. We have used these insights to influence how designers understand the online experiences of people with disabilities and how assistive technology users engage with our websites, which has led to making company-wide design patterns more inclusive. We have also gained leadership support for inclusive and accessibility-oriented research by establishing a successful collaboration between the design accessibility and user experience research teams. We will outline these strategic initiatives throughout our presentation.

On our journey to build out inclusive and accessibility-oriented user research methods at CVS Health, we have encountered several pragmatic challenges to implementing an inclusive research process. We have had to determine which research tools are accessible and can be used by people with disabilities and assistive technologies, adapt our research methods to support people with disabilities, and work to develop more inclusive screening language to ensure our research panels are more diverse. This journey is a continuous and evolving process. We will share our challenges and triumphs to help others who are looking to include people with disabilities in their own user research.

This Presentation Link is provided by the Presenter(s) and not hosted by the Center on Disabilities at CSUN. The Center on Disabilities has confirmed, as of March 17, 2022, content linked is relevant to the presentation, but has not been reviewed for accessibility nor will the Center on Disabilities attempt to remediate any accessibility issues in the linked content. Please contact the Presenter(s) with any accessibility concerns.

  • Healthcare & Rehabilitation
  • Research & Development
  • Marketing
  • Retail & Wholesale
  • Insurance
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Are you looking to make your user research more inclusive or are you curious what user research can add to your accessibility work? This presentation will explore the what, why, and how of inclusive user research based on our experiences creating an accessibility-oriented research program at CVS Health.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Design
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Leadership & Strategy
  • Research


  • Gregory Weinstein
    CVS Health
  • Maria Lamardo
    CVS Health
  • Andrew Wong-Crocitto
    CVS Health

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