Reading System Review
When testing how well a reading system (application) and assistive technology (AT) combination addresses the needs of a user, there are four essential feature categories we test:
- file management
- navigation and
- support for annotations.
Using the protocol published at epubtest.org, apps are evaluated using a structured framework. This accessibility testing protocol has been developed in collaboration with people with reading disabilities, accessibility experts, and reading system developers. It is an open effort, with the test process described on the website, and more than 50 volunteer testers with different reading disabilities collaborate in the testing effort.
The basic assumption of the approach is that apps should support reading by eyes, ears or fingers. It should be possible for users to read the content by:
- adjusting the display such as adjusting font size and colour combination,
- reading the text with a screen reader or integrated read aloud feature, and
- reading the text on a refreshable Braille display.
We also test how the application allows for visual adjustments. In other words, when using an app or a combination of a reading system and assistive technology, is the user able to launch the system, find a title, read the title, navigate through the publication, take notes or add bookmarks.
The apps are evaluated using different combinations of the above features, with and without assistive technology. All reading apps are tested using the same standardized test titles, to ensure consistency. The test files are available from http://epubtest.org/testbooks. A score of 100% indicates that all essential features are supported.
You can also access all evaluations on epubtest.org.
Keep in mind that the same reading system and assistive technology combination will not guarantee the best reading experience for everyone. Accessibility is not an on/off switch and what is successful for one person’s requirements may not be for another. The results will also change as the app and AT developers improve the accessibility features of their products.
How Can You Help?
We want to engage users in our community to help us determine which reading systems are the most popular among people with different disabilities and which accessibility features are most in demand.
We are actively seeking users with dyslexia or low vision to help us expand the list of apps we test and the types of tests we conduct – the evaluation protocol is free to use and anyone can evaluate a reading system.
We’re also eager to have more reading system developers participate so that can increase the choices of reading systems available to readers with disabilities. If you are an app developer you can ask us to look at your app, and we will report the results back to you.
If you want to be a part of our efforts, we’d love to have you as part of our group.
Further details on how to volunteer with testing.