The Open Virtual Usability Lab: A New Tool for Website Accessibility Research


Funding Program:

SSHRC Insight Development Grant

Funding Amount:


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Hosted by the Institute for Research on Learning Technologies at York University, OpenVULab is an open source tool designed for remote usability and accessibility research. A unique feature of OpenVULab is that it can record video and audio of remote users’ interactions with their computer without the need to install an application on the users’ computer. When users log into OpenVULab they are presented with a series of pre-session questions set up by the researcher. After answering these questions, users are directed to the web site or application being studied and recording begins. Users then navigate the site according to protocols established by the researcher and they may be asked to talk aloud about why they are making particular choices. At the end of the session the recording is stopped and users are prompted to answer post-experience questions set up by the researcher. Users’ pre- and post-session questions and videos are stored in a relational database on the OpenVULab server that can be queried by the researcher and analyzed.