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Inclusive Research Recommendations

The people using your products and services come from diverse backgrounds. Having such a large user base gives us the opportunity to recruit a diverse range of participants to ensure accessibility and inclusivity are at the forefront of the tools we build.

Why your team should practice inclusive recruiting

The following statistics emphasize how diverse your user population is, and why it’s important to mindfully recruit for research studies:

  • Statistics to come

Guidelines for inclusive research recruiting

There are some baseline characteristics to ensure a diverse range of participants in your research. These characteristics may need to be adjusted depending on the individual study. Consider adding at least one person with these baseline recruiting requirements to your study:

  • woman
  • person of color
  • aged 35 or under
  • aged over 55
  • non-native English speaker
  • who does not have a high school diploma
  • who does not have a college degree
  • who has a college degree
  • who lives in a rural or remote area
  • who lives in a major metropolitan area
  • who has a cognitive disability or consideration; examples of diagnoses that may align with this would be traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and vertigo. Other conditions may be aphasia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, distractibility, memory loss, reading difficulties, low tolerance for cognitive overload, and intellectual/adaptive functioning challenges for learning and problem-solving.
  • Consider adding a recruiting requirement for at least one person who uses assistive technology (AT), if your study can accommodate them; specialized keyboards, switches, and hearing aids can generally be included, whereas screen readers (JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, TalkBack, ChromeVox) may not be able to participate if testing design prototypes in Figma, Framer, Invision, Mural, or UXPin, yet Adobe's XD

People with disabilities may joins with their caregiver. Be prepared to communicate with both the caregiver and the participant. Make sure you can clearly hear the audio from both the caregiver and participant.

If the study requires screensharing

Ahead of time, confirm that the participant has Zoom (or your tool) downloaded prior to the session and they know how to screenshare. If the research is only testing prototypes and the participant cannot get Zoom working, they will not be able to participate.

Usability testing

People with disabilities can be included in usability testing.

  • People with vision impairments who use assistive technology may be included if the research includes testing HTML/CSS/JS prototypes.
  • If your design prototype is created in Adobe XD, you may be able to include assistive tech users.

  • People with auditory impairments can be included in usability testing.
    • They may need time to connect their hearing aids. Bluetooth hearing aids may experience challenges connecting to devices.
    • People with hearing impairments may prefer to use chat messaging or email to communicate, or value real-time captions when available. For Zoom, this may be tough because it can be hard to find the chat functionality in the interface. Providing clear directions ahead of time may be helpful. Frankly, this would be helpful for all participants!
    • Consider presenting visual instructions for accessing the Zoom chat and screen sharing functionality as part of your study’s introduction.
    • People with hearing impairments may speak in ways that seem unfamiliar to you. A good rule of thumb is not to speak louder or “yell.” Take a moment and consider that this person is processing additional stimulus and aim to adjust to their ways.

If the research includes testing prototypes in tools such as InVision, UXPin, or Mural, it will not be possible to include those who use assistive technology. Therefore, include the following language in your research plan:

  • For this session, we are unable to include those who use specific assistive technology, such as screen readers (JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, ChromeVox).
  • For this session, we are unable to include people with significant vision loss.

If someone does join a session with a disability and cannot participate in the planned activity, be prepared to use the opportunity and conduct a listening session, discovery session, or in-depth interview. Prepare for this possibility by documenting exploratory or generative research goals for better understanding your problem space.

Recruiting for discovery research

Everyone can be included in generative and exploratory research through listening sessions and in-depth interviews. For example, listening sessions meet the person where they are comfortable and follow where they lead, and may be conducted over the phone, video, or even via text-based messaging. No specialized equipment is required, only to listen to the person speak. Ideally, the session would be recorded, and notes transcribed verbatim afterwards.

Learning session example: “Tell me about a time when you accessed your account. What were you seeking to accomplish? When was this? What happened? What went through your mind when that happened? How did this make you feel?” If there’s no notetaker in the session, record the entire session, then transcribe afterwards so you can place your full attention on listening to the participant.

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