Accessibility Design Guidelines for Software
The following guidelines highlight important accessibility considerations for all software. For more detailed information, see Software Guidelines (http://www.msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/nhp/default.asp?contentid=28000544).
- Color - Use color to enhance, emphasize, or reiterate information shown by other means rather than as the sole means to convey information.
- Exposing keyboard focus. Many accessibility aids need to identify the location of the keyboard focus in order to pass that information to users. For example, screen-magnification utilities pan to include the text or object being read, enlarging that portion of the screen.
- Exposing screen elements. Accessibility aids use Windows messages, Active Accessibility, and off-screen models to collect information about objects on the screen. Accessible applications must expose information about their screen content using Windows messages or Active Accessibility.
- General user interface. A fundamental rule of accessible design is to provide a user interface that is flexible enough to accommodate the user's needs and preferences.
- Keyboard input. Keyboard access is a fundamental part of the Microsoft Windows interface standards and is expected of all applications. A well-designed keyboard interface helps users with a wide range of disabilities and those who simply prefer keyboard input.
- Layout. To assist users who cannot see an object's context on the screen, assign each object a unique and descriptive label.
- Miscellaneous. Avoid making the user insert or swap disks, including disks and CD-ROMs.
- Mouse input. Well-designed mouse support makes applications easier to use for many people.
- Multitasking. Applications should be designed to work well with other applications, including accessibility aids.
- Size. The size of text and graphics affects both accessibility and usability. Allow users to size objects on the screen and follow system metrics for preset user preferences.
- Sound. Users with hearing impairments, users working in noisy environments, and users working in environments that require low sound volumes require alternatives to sound.
- Timings. All timed events should be adjustable by the user. Consequently, users with difficulty reading and reacting to briefly displayed information can successfully perform tasks related to timings.