Running an accessibility testing lab – Model Versus Reality


Scheduled at 10:30am in Meadowbrook II on Friday, November 17 (2017).



  • Amelia Dickerson, Accessibility Professional, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Paula Vaughan, Accessibility Testing Coordinator, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Konstantin Tovstiadi, UX Specialist, University of Colorado Boulder

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


CU Boulder’s Accessibility and Usability Lab works to improve the accessibility of digital content for blind and low vision students. We will cover our guiding model – test/document/train – our efforts to apply this model in the midst of reality, and notes about what is and is not working.


Accessibility and Usability Lab (AUL) at the University of Colorado Boulder has existed for about three years. AUL’s goal, from inception, has been to improve the accessibility of existing and future digital content at CU Boulder for students using screen reading and magnifying software. The basic model for AUL’s work is to: 1. Test digital content for accessibility with native users; 2. Process the test results for posting to a searchable database of issues encountered during testing, cross-referenced with the applications where the issues were encountered and with the WCAG 2.0 standards; and 3. Use the database to inform training we provide to the campus community. We hope the training will ultimately reduce the amount of testing we need to do. However, the real world offers a myriad of challenges in putting this model into practice. Our presentation will cover the model that guides our work, along with the hiccups that we’ve had along the way.


  1. Keep the focus of an accessibility testing lab on its goals, strengths and mandate
  2. Flexibility and adaptability are essential to the longevity of a testing lab
  3. Every small success counts and progress on big goals takes a lot of time and patience

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Administrative/Campus Policy, Assistive Technology, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Amelia Dickerson

Amelia Dickerson has worked in accessibility since 2009 when a class on universal design caught her attention as a way to give everyone better access to information. Amelia's background is in psychology, sociology, and education, so she is particularly passionate about the issues surrounding who does and who does not have access to information and resources. She has worked in a variety of settings in both the corporate and academic realms. She is excited to have a chance to work in the Accessibility and Usability Testing Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder because of the exploration currently happening and a chance to work with interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Paula Vaughan

Paula Vaughan began her career in IT at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1980 upon receiving her master’s degree from CU. Rising through the ranks from Systems Analyst to IT Project Manager, some of Paula's more entertaining projects include the introduction of computing to Boulder Campus' Facilities Management Department with the design and implementation of a work order cost accounting system, in-house development of CU's Acquisition Card system, the implementation of the university's first automated purchasing system, a foray into middleware architecture with CU-Boulder's Directory Services project and she finished off her career with the design and implementation of CU’s first faculty, staff, and student portal. Paula retired from CU in 2006 but the lure of the accessibility testing project enticed Paula to return to campus and its new perspectives of IT that the accessibility world provides.

Konstantin Tovstiadi

Konstantin Tovstiadi has worked in universities and academic IT for almost 15 years. Before starting work with the Accessibility and Usability Lab he focused on web consulting, helping individuals and departments understand their web presence needs and strategies. Konstantin has a PhD in Communication and has taught undergraduate and graduate level classes in four different universities.