Weeknote 10th March 2023 – Acessibility testing and a road trip

Missed a week last week, which always means it’s been a busy one!

Last week was mainly lots of research sessions. I ran 6 accessibility testing sessions with people with access needs, some of who used assistive technologies. Most of my work testing GOV.UK Forms has been using the prototype kit version so far. But we’ve now got an enviornment set up for user testing with people outside of our private beta using the production code. This was the first time using that setup, and it all went very smoothly.

I had a very interesting but incredibly busy Monday and Tuesday doing five accessibility testing sessions, learning lots about how Forms works for people who use screen readers, asssistive tech for mobility challenges, and approach things from a non-neurotypical perspective. Lots of successful forms created but also lots of things we need to improve spotted.

Then on Wednesday I took the day off to help an old friend move a van full of their stuff out of storage back near where we grew up and down to London to sort out. I did the same thing a couple of months back, consolidated all the stuff I’d been hoarding in a storage unit and bringing it down to my recently boarded attic. It’s amazing what you accumulate over the years. Something that was useful or entertaining gets kept and then before you know it a decade has gone by. Anyway it was a fun road trip, good to reminisce and to get a little project done. I’ve realised that so many of my oldest friends are people I’ve done some sort of projects with. Having ended up with most of my projects becoming solo efforts I think it’s time to be more intentional about doing things like that with other people.

Back at work for the back end of the week and I ran a workshop with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, who are joining us as partners on our private beta. It was an interesting discussion about how rail accidents are monitored and investigated. Part of private beta is really understanding their processes and how our forms tool fits into that, so we can make sure it meets the many varied needs of different ggovernment departments.

This week has been mainly focused on analysis and writing up of all the research from the week before. I’ve run some collaborative analysis sessions with other people on the team, been through all the notes and videos, and spent some time editing clips from videos to share.

I find it’s particualarly useful to use video to communicate the findings from accessibility work, as people can be unfamiliar with how people use assistive technology. Sharing video helps them understand the experience for users as well as just the things I’ve found we need to look at the design of. It takes ages to put together though. We’re on a ‘firebreak’ sprint at the moment so I’ve had more time to try out a few different appraoches to this. I want to get to a workflow I can use to work with video more quickly in the future.

It’s coming toward the end of the business year too, so I spent some time preparing for end of year conversations and getting evidence together for my DDaT assessment. DDaT is a process where people in government can get additional pay based on their digital, data or technology skills.

Next week is the second week of our firebreak sprint. I’m going to have more work to do on the end of year and DDaT assessment stuff, but I also want to do some forward planning for the strategy for research, and do some training. I’ve been doing a course on SQL to level up my data skills, but it’s been on the shelf for about a month so I’ll be dusting off my notes, pushing against the forgetting curve and aiming to finish it off.






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