19 Other Reviews, Checks and Testing

Other reviews, checks and tests that are recommended before publishing include:

  • sensitivity reading (if applicable)
  • usability testing
  • beta testing
  • accessibility testing
  • copyright and licence compatibility checking.

Sensitivity Reading

Consider engaging a sensitivity reader to review your text if you are writing about cultures or situations outside your lived experience.

“A sensitivity reader is someone who reads for offensive content, misrepresentation, stereotypes, bias, lack of understanding, etc. They create a report for an author and/or publisher outlining the problems that they find in a piece of work and offer solutions in how to fix them. By doing this, the literary quality of a work is substantially improved.” (University of Alberta Library, 2022).


Usability is a way to measure how easily and well a user can navigate a specific site to complete a task. You have probably heard of usability testing on websites or may have participated in a usability test yourself. According to Nielsen (2012), a leader in usability studies,

“Usability” is defined by five quality components:

  1. Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  2. Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  3. Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they re-establish proficiency?
  4. Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  5. Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

There are many other important quality attributes. A key one is utility, which refers to the design’s functionality: Does it do what users need?” (Nielsen 2012).

There are many resources available to help you understand the importance of usability, such as the What is usability website which explains how to design for optimum usability. The website gives a good basic overview of the concepts and principles for creating usable websites, and many of the concepts can be applied to OER.

There are also some rubrics you can use to validate the usability of your OER. For example, the Washington State University web communication page includes a 25-point list of how to design for optimum usability and a printable rubric for reviewing your website.

Usability Testing

Doing a usability review or audit can help you identify the pain points in the OER. You may not have control over some things, such as the hosting platform not being completely accessible or being unable to integrate certain functionality. In other cases, you may be able to catch problems early and correct them before the development process goes any further. Keep in mind that a usability review is not a definitive process but one tool that you can use to make the open text as user-friendly as possible. For more guidance on doing a usability review, see A quick guide to conducting a usability review.

Beta Testing

Beta testing is one way to determine the usability of your product. Rather than publishing the open text straight away, do some beta testing by using the text in your course before actually publishing it. You can use the text in a PDF or Word format in your course and get feedback from students about the content, layout, and design. Another option is to have colleagues review the content before rollout (a peer review of sorts) or engage the students and authors in focus groups about the text to make improvements. All of this information will help in the creation of a usable final product. Once published, you will still want to be open to additional feedback from students and other users, but the majority of the feedback from your students should happen pre-publication.

Accessibility Testing

Make sure your open text meets the accessibility requirements in this accessibility checklist. You can also use online tools to test the accessibility of your open text or convert it into different accessible formats:

  • NVDA Screen Reader – Free, open source, Windows-based screen reader that enables user testing in more than 40 languages.
  • WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools – a suite of evaluation tools that helps authors make their web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. WAVE can identify many accessibility and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors, but also facilitates human evaluation of web content.
  • Free PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC 3) – Free program that displays a PDF preview in a web browser. The PAC preview shows PDF tags and presents the accessible elements as they would be interpreted by assistive technologies. PAC also provides an accessibility report, which lists the detected accessibility errors.
  • DAISY Consortium Pipeline 2 – Cross-platform, open-source framework for converting text documents into accessible formats for people with print disabilities.

Check Copyright and Licensing Compatibility

It’s a good idea to conduct one last copyright check of your open text before publication. This includes making sure you have:

Fixing an Open Text with Incompatible Licences

If the licence of the Creative Commons content you want to use is not compatible with the overall licence of your text, you may be able to:

  • create original replacement content yourself
  • find alternatives with more permissive licences
  • choose a different licence for your open text
  • attach a separate licence to chapters containing incompatible content
  • contact the original work’s creator to obtain permissions beyond the specified licence.

When combining chapters from different open texts, you may be able to assign them their own licences, separate from the overall licence on the open text.

For example: If most of the content in your open text is CC BY, but you want to include a small number of CC BY-SA chapters, you may still be able to licence your open text as CC BY, provided the CC BY-SA chapters remain under a CC BY-SA licence.

Pressbooks allows you to do this by creating separate metadata – including copyright and licensing information – for each chapter.

Getting Help with Checking and Fixing Licence Compatibility

Licensing is a complex issue and can be hard to get right, so it’s best to ask the OEP team for help with checking and fixing licence compatibility.


Nielsen, J. (2012). Usability 101: Introduction to usability. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/

University of Alberta. (2022). Writing, editing, and publishing Indigenous stories. https://guides.library.ualberta.ca/c.php?g=708820&p=5049650

Chapter Attribution

This chapter has been adapted in parts from:


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