Basic Evaluation Techniques

Basic accessibility techniques are simplified evaluation mechanisms to determine whether or not accessibility is addressed in the product being evaluated. Basic evaluations are designed to educate those who are new to accessibility about potential problems an inaccessible product could present. They do not represent a full accessibility review.  Most basic evaluation techniques can be used to evaluate the various types of information technology products such as web, applications, software, and operating systems. 

Accessibility Questionnaire

 The first test you can conduct is an accessibility questionnaire. The accessibility questionnaire is comprised of a few general questions that are meant to introduce you to accessibility and determine whether or not accessibility is addressed in the product being evaluated. To initiative your accessibility evaluation, spend at least 1 to 2 hours answering the following questions:  

    1. Is the font of text displayed in the software or online product easy to read?

Explanation: If the text displayed on the page is difficult to read, this could be a problem for individuals with various visual impairments. Is the color used in the software or online product difficult to read?

    1. Is the color used in the software or online product difficult to read?

Explanation: If the color displayed is difficult to see, there may be a problem with the color combinations used on the page. The color combinations used on the page may cause individuals with visual impairments difficulties in understanding information on the page. 

    1. Can you use the keyboard “tab” key to navigate to all the button, links, form fields, and features on the page?

Explanation: For this test, you are looking to verify that all functions on the page can be accessed without using the computer mouse. For individuals with physical impairments, it is critical that information can be accessed through other methods instead of the mouse. 

    1. Using the “Ctrl +” keystroke and “Ctrl -“keystroke, can you enlarge the screen without distorting the text?

Explanation: When you make the screen smaller or larger, the text on the screen should continue to be displayed without it being cut off or partially visible.

Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) Review

 A VPAT review is one of the most effective methods to evaluate the level of accessibility on a product or service. Through the VPAT review, you are assessing what the vendor has stated regarding the product or service they are providing.  Please be aware that VPAT reviews can ONLY be conducted on purchased products/service. 

 Per CSU recommendation, when conducting a VPAT review, you should always consider the following:

  • Is the VPAT out of date?
  • Is the VPAT incomplete or is it missing metadata?
  • Are there any discrepancies or contradictions present?
  • Is there a lack of specificity or Understanding?
  • If “Not Applicable” status is present in the VPAT, what are the explanations for this status level?

For more information on conducting a VPAT review, please visit the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) Review page on the CSU Professional Development for Accessible Technology website.