Today was an interesting experiment. I say “interesting” in that I set out to do one thing, and I ended up doing something completely different and highly unexpected. For starters, we scheduled a session to discuss and talk about Accessibility Testing, and some of the interesting aspects of it and how we could encourage others to consider it and methods they could use. From that, we compiled a good list of ideas for accessibility approaches, design and testing. For those interested in the resources we discussed and shared, those are below:
Accessibility Testing Ideas, Resources, And Tools
- Web Accessibility at a Glance (W3C)
- Accessibility Testing Wiki Entry (W3C)
- Complete List of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools (W3C)
- Web Accessibility Testing (Jim Thatcher’s site)
- Section 508 Standards for Accessibility (EPA site)
- Accessibility Testing (webnauts site)
- Screen Reader User Survey
- Accessibility Mind Map (Ministry of Testing)
- Accessibility Options (Apple)
- Testing For Accessibility (msdn)
- Non-Visual Desktop Access (open source screen reader)
With that, I could also mention that we had four active participants on the call (thank you Amy, Teri and JeanAnn, and thank you Lalit and Shmuel for trying your hardest to get in and stay in, but alas, ’twas not meant to be), and call it a day and say “good show, all is great”, but that isn’t really the case. I will say it was a good and productive discussion… except that I did most of the talking. This isn’t for a lack of trying on the part of the other participants. This seems to be a limitation on the medium we’ve been experimenting with the past couple of months (we have been using Concert-oh as a meeting tool), and we have been emphasizing conversation and real time talking over the standard model we have used in the past, which has been a Skype session with a bunch of participants.
Because of these challenges, it’s led us to ask a deeper, more fundamental question, and I will confess, at the immediate moment, I don’t have a clear answer for this…
What is it that we want to accomplish with Weekend Testing, anyway?
Now, understand, I’m asking this as a bit of an interloper. I wasn’t there at the beginning, I came in about a year after this got off the ground, and my focus has been on the Americas, though the number of participants that we get from outside the Americas often eclipses those of us here in the Western Hemisphere (just sayin’). We have to ask ourselves a different set of questions at this point:
Who is the primary audience for Weekend Testing?
Is it for beginners or relative novices to have a place to practice testing?
Is it a social environment for seasoned testers to congregate?
Is it a place to mentor and be mentored by testers of different backgrounds?
Is it a place to learn new techniques and discover new ideas?
It it a place to challenge assumptions and debate ideas?
Is it a place to do new and exciting things in the world of testing?
See, personally, I think it is all of those things. It’s not that we have a lack of things to cover, but that the amount of what we can cover is so dense, there’s no way we could do it all. There’s also possibly a hundred things that we could do, and of those hundred things, I might be able to address a few dozen of them with something approaching a half of a brain. This means we need to have a chat. All of us. What do you value in Weekend Testing? Do you value it? If you have been a participant in the past, what’s stopped you from coming? If you haven’t participated, what turns you off about it? If we are covering the same tired ground, what would you like to see us cover in the future? If you’re sick of hearing from me, who would you like to hear from?
The fact is, we’re at a bit of a crossroads now, and we have to make a decision where it is we want to go. I see the value of Weekend Testing and I genuinely enjoy facilitating sessions, but I think we need to make some changes in both what we do and how we do them. We’ve tried some the past few months, with mixed success. Now I’d like to hear what you would like to see WT2.0 become. Let me know your feedback, either in the comments, or feel free to email me if you prefer (mkltesthead at gmail dot com).