Screen Reader User Tester Training Program to empower next generation of Blind Accessibility Professionals

The Carroll Center for the Blind announced the launch of a revolutionary new career development course that aims to get adults with visual impairments prepared for pursuing employment in the field of digital accessibility. Through the Screen Reader User Tester Training Program, supported by funding from The Gibney Family Foundation, adults seeking employment will learn the skills needed to professionally explore, test, and report about the accessibility of websites, mobile applications, and digital document files.

Screen reader user testers play a crucial role in digital accessibility by identifying and communicating problems to web developers and digital content creators so that these barriers can be remediated. Incorporating experienced, real-life users of assistive technology throughout the user testing process ensures people of all abilities have access to digital content. The first-of-its-kind program builds on The Carroll Center for the Blind’s pioneering work to advance opportunities and help people with disabilities achieve independence through employment.

“Through the Screen Reader User Tester Training Program, we’ll establish a pipeline of candidates qualified for launching a meaningful career path of opportunity. This will ultimately create more inclusivity and diversity within the workforce,” says Bruce Howell, Accessibility Services Manager at the Carroll Center for the Blind. “The unemployment rate for people who are blind or visually impaired is nearly 70%. Our goal is to lower that number by providing much-needed work experience and learning opportunities so participants can achieve success and realize their full potential.”

For people with visual impairments, screen reader software is crucial for living in today’s world. A screen reader is a form of assistive technology primarily used by people with visual impairments that allows users to access digital content displayed on a computer or mobile screen through non-visual methods. The software converts text, images and digital elements into speech or braille so users can get information in a way that is accessible to them.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that websites, mobile applications, and documents need to be accessible to all users. When companies and organizations design and code digital properties correctly, people with disabilities can use them. However, without proper user testing, these digital properties may be developed with accessibility barriers that make them difficult or impossible for some people to use.

The Screen Reader User Tester Training Program at the Carroll Center for the Blind will prepare participants to obtain employment in the field of digital accessibility to help companies with their accessibility compliance. Whether they work as an independent contractor, are hired by one of the many accessibility consulting companies, or are hired by entities with their own internal accessibility expertise, this program will position participants for a solid career path in digital accessibility.

After the completion of the program, participants will have the chance to gain practical, real-world internship and mentorship experience that is highly desired by potential employers. The Carroll Center for the Blind has partnered with My Blind Spot to offer impactful internships and mentorship opportunities. The New York City-based internationally-certified nonprofit consultancy delivers digital accessibility solutions to organizations of all types.

“Access to the right skills promotes ability and restores infinite possibilities in our lives,” says Albert J. Rizzi, founder and CEO of My Blind Spot. “We’re focusing on creating avenues of employment for the blind and visually impaired communities while allowing participants to further hone their skills as they navigate career opportunities within the Digital Accessibility industry.”

Businesses need to make disability inclusiveness a priority in their workplace. Just a third of working-age adults who are blind or visually impaired are employed in today’s workforce. Attitudinal barriers preventing qualified candidates from employment opportunities need to shift as people with visual impairments continue to demonstrate increased employee retention, employee satisfaction, and innovation—all of which contribute to a competitive business advantage.

To find out more about participating in the Screen Reader User Tester Training Program, visit https://carroll.org/screen-reader-user-tester-training-program/.

To learn how your business can engage persons who are blind for help with accessibility user testing, contact the Carroll Center for the Blind’s Accessibility Services department at accessibility.services@carroll.org.