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How to conduct user testing with disabled users

Rutuja Patil
Mar 16, 2022
5 minutes

‘Never assume anything’, is the cardinal rule of user-centric designing. If you have designed a product, you will be aware of the fact that your users almost never interact with it as you expect them to. 

The process of making a product is known to distort the objective truth from the maker, which is true for designing as well. The infatuation of your design can cloud your judgment of the outcome easily. So you must TEST, TEST and TEST your product/website/solution. 

snapshot of an user testing session at a cafe with the name LAB

User testing session at a cafe

In this blog, this is what we are going to explore. 

First, I will briefly tell you WHY it is important to user test with disabled people, then this blog majorly focuses on HOW to conduct a user testing session with disabled users. 

The process of HOW is divided into four phases. Preparation, Plan, Session and Documentation. This is in order to give you a step-by-step idea.

Thereafter, I have shared some useful resources for you to conduct user testing. 


There are one billion people with disabilities in the world. That is one in eight people you meet every day. 

If you don’t make your product accessible, every 8th person is not using it or even not knowing about it. 

So, you are not only losing a huge market but also alienating a large population most of whom are already isolated from the new digital world. 

As a business, you must stand up for inclusion and diversity. It gives your brand identity and it helps you globalize your product easily. And what better way to show your support to an inclusive world than making your product inclusive? 

Accessible products need testing with disabled users. To know more, read my previous blog on 5 Reasons why you should test your digital products with disabled users.


Now that we know why we need to include disabled users in user testing, let's understand how to do user testing with disabled users effectively. 

  1. Preparation

Preparation is MUST while testing with disabled users. You need to have a clear idea of what kind of users with disabilities you want to test with, which features do you want to test, and what is your expected outcome.

At what stage should you test with disabled users? 

User testing must be done on a prototype rather than on the final product, which saves money and time for the designers. 

We recommend 5 to 6 iterations of user testing with diverse users for effective feedback with a more than 90% success rate. After practising different methods, we have found that it is best to bring disabled users in the last iterations of user testing after the product is tested on non-disabled users. 

Recruiting Users

Recruiting the right users for your product is important. There are four types of disabilities - visual, auditory, physical and cognitive. 

For your website and digital products, our recommended set of users is: blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, cognitive disabilities, reading disabilities, motor skills disabilities

  1. Testing Plan

A planning sheet to document the results is required to measure the success of the session.  

Here is a sample plan:

User name

Condition / Disability

Feature to be tested

Expected Outcome

Actual Outcome

  1. Conducting Session

Interacting with people with disabilities can be challenging for most of us. Here are some tips that will help you ease the conversation,

  •  Don’t make assumptions and ask them any questions you might have about their disabilities. 
  •  Ask before you help. Not everyone needs assistance. 
  • Talk directly to the user and not the interpreter. 

Once you explain the product and its use, it is recommended for moderators to keep interruptions at a minimum and ask questions at the end of the session. 

Moderated or Unmoderated session

Moderated Session is where you will be the one testing your product and unmoderated is where you can share the requirements with the user testers to carry out by themselves.

Choosing the right session for you depends on your expertise and the budget available. 

Moderated sessions are helpful while testing with non-disabled users since you are the one who knows your product better and there is scope to improvise your questions. 

If you want to moderate the session effectively, you must have good research done on the assistive technologies they use and how they regularly interact with other products. Any new question or interruption can distract them and make it hard for them to get back to the previous point, delaying the whole session.  

In unmoderated sessions, users will record themselves using your product, complete your questionnaire and send you. This can be helpful if you have less time to invest.

  1. Documentation

The disabled user participants sign the consent form shared by us. However, if you are conducting tests by yourself, be sure to have an accessible consent form for users to sign if you want to record the session. It is highly recommended to record the sessions. If you are consulting agencies, they will already have the consent of their users.

Be sure to check all the features and write the descriptive outcomes. 

Ask Questions

While asking questions, use open-ended questions rather than suggestive ones. Here are some of the most common questions from our practice, 

  • What do you think this button is going to do?
  • What’s most appealing about this product?
  • What’s the hardest part about using this product?
  • Was there anything surprising or unexpected about this product?
  • What could be done to improve this product?
  • What may be missing? What else would you like to see?
  • What do you like/dislike about the way it works?
  • How do you think this product is going to help you?
  • Would you use this product today?
  • Why do you think someone would use this product? 

We recommend multiple iterations of the sessions with different users. Once the success rate of the test goes over 90%, stop testing. The app/site/platform should now be very usable and useful.  


Respect code of practice and laws:


Planning Usability testing:


Planning worksheet Template: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E96r55rFIXcpMWhcVADL2aX11Q5MaS8IifvFIE1pLGs/template/preview

Conducting the session: 





We at VIP World services are now offering user testing services with our existing wide and diverse VIP (Visually Impaired People) community, people with other disabilities and accessibility experts.

Here is a snap from our remote user testing session: 


Snapshot of a remote user testing session with several users

Remote user testing session with several users at VIP World

We have 850+ VIP World Community and can give you the best results with our moderated and unmoderated sessions. Be sure to check our community on facebook.

Why choose us?

  • VIP World lets you browse through user-profiles and select the ones suitable for your research. 
  • We provide recommendations and insights to provide you with maximum benefits. 
  • Scheduling and testing on your demand. 
  • You can schedule a DEMO call with us and see if it works for you.

Get in touch with us today