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Introduction to Accessibility

Welcome

What comes to mind when you think of Accessibility? If you’re like most people, you might conjure up images of a wheelchair or perhaps someone who is blind. What about someone with a broken arm, a child with a learning disability, or a 65-year-old who needs high-prescription eyeglasses to read? When it comes to technology, accessibility pertains to a wide range of people with a wide range of abilities, not just people with disabilities.

Accessible technology is technology that users can adapt to meet their visual, earning, dexterity, cognitive and speech needs and interaction preferences. Accessible technology includes accessibility options and utilities built into products, as well as specialty hardware and software add-ons called assistive technology (AT) that help individuals interact with a computer.

Whatever your experience with accessibility, this Training is meant to inspire you to learn more about creating accessible products.

Visit Microsoft’s Accessibility website to learn more about the stories of people reaching their full potential, regardless of the challenges they face.

Course content

The Microsoft Accessibility Training for Developers is divided into a series of courses. This Training will show you how to incorporate programmatic access and keyboard access into your interfaces and how accessibility fits into your product development.

Objectives

By the time you have completed the Accessibility Training Courses, you will have a increased understanding of how accessibility can affect your customers and employees and you will be better prepared to drive accessibility into your products and services.

Keyboard Access

This course has been designed with accessibility in mind. If you use assistive technology, or would like to try out the experience of navigating without a mouse, the keyboard commands can be found on the keyboard shortcuts page (K).

Glossary

A glossary of terms is available to you at any time while you are taking this course. Open the glossary (G) to learn the definition of terms introduced in this course.

Getting Started

We hope that you find this Training helpful as you create Accessibility in your products and services and make Accessibility a systematic component of your product development cycle.

Lives Enhanced by Accessible Products

Throughout this Introduction you will have the opportunity to hear the stories of a variety of users whose lives are enhanced by accessible products. In this first video you will meet Neil, who works for the Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Transcript of video

Neal: I’m Neal Ewers. I work for the Trace Research and Development Center here in Madison. And one of my jobs is to look at all applications, web browsers, word processors, etc., to see how well they work with screen readers.

Screen Reader: A screen reader is a piece of software that allows the user to hear via a speech synthesizer, or touch, via a Braille display, the information on the screen.

Neal: The screen reader will follow along and say exactly what I’m doing.

Screen Reader: Synthesizer test.doc

Neal: That’s the one we want.

Screen Reader: This is the eloquent speech synthesizer. Most synthesizers are able to speak at a variety of speech rates and a variety of vocal pitches. Many speak with different voices and some even speak in different languages.

Neal: I can ask the screen reader to tell me various things about what I am reading. For example, if I am on a title and I press: [Insert] [F] it’s going to tell me some information about the text.

Screen Reader: …Times New Roman, 16 point, bolded, style heading, one; line spacing, single; paragraph formatting, aligned left; outline level, one…

Neal: That’s a whole bunch of text. But what I discern from that is it’s a title. It’s a certain style level in Word. And I know that it’s a font size bigger than what I’ve been dealing with. But I only did that because I thought I was on a title. The point is it takes an awful long time for a screen reader user to get a layout, even of a simple page.

One of the things I can’t do is use the mouse. I can move it along the mousepad and I have no clue where the mouse pointer on the screen is. What screen readers have done to help get around this is to allow the user to use the number pad keys to actually move the mouse pointer. The screen reader gives me an ability to read by sentence by doing: [Alt] [down-arrow].

Screen Reader: This is the eloquent speech synthesizer…

Neal: Or I can read by word…

Screen Reader: …pitches. Period. Many speak with…

Neal: Or by letter…

Screen Reader: space W-I-T-H space…

Neal: Once again, I’m only using the keystrokes that you could use in Word. I am only reading a word at a time. If I were able to see the screen I would know that there were a couple of titles on the screen that are in bold letters, and they’re centered, and they’re in larger text. I can’t see that. So, the problem a blind user has is that one begins to read, not knowing anything about the layout of the page. The only way you know what’s on the page is when you get to it. Greg Vanderheiden, our Director, has often referred to it as the “soda straw approach.” You’re looking through this small hole. You’re reading one word at a time, and that’s all you see. And that’s all I hear until I get to the next word. I have no clue that down, halfway down the page, is a bold heading. Just the other day, I was reading something that made no sense to me whatsoever until I got to what I assume the middle of the page was. And then, what was on the middle of the page said: “Read the text below, and use these instructions to fill out the top part of the page.” Well, geez, you know, if I had seen I would have gone right there. But my problem as a screen reader user is I can’t.

End of transcript

Considerations

You've met Neal and learned how accessible technology gives him the chance to use his potential to the fullest. Consider for a moment how this course would be different for him. In Neal's case he would probably:

  • Use a screen reader to hear (read) the course text
  • Navigate the course using the menu on the left
  • Read the alt text attached to the images to understand what they are
  • Listen to the videos without seeing what is in them

Experience Neal's perspective and use assistive technologies. In this course you will have the opportunity to experience accessible tools.

Changing Perspective

Neal is blind and uses a screen reader to navigate the world of computers, but there is a whole range of visual impairments which can impact a person’s viewing experience.

Here is a glimpse of how other people see the world.

If you have…..Your vision…
GlaucomaIs marred by large arcs of missing information
CataractsMakes everything blurry
Detached and torn retinaIs marred by random small grey dots of missing information
Diabetic RetinopathyIs marred by random small black dots of missing information
Macular degenerationIs darkened in the center of your vision, making it harder to see things
MonochromacyShows everything in shades of black, grey, and white
ProtanopiaShows anything red as a dark shade of brown, and most red, yellow, and green items appear to be of a similar color
DeuteranopiaMakes red and green items indistinct from one another
TritanopiaMakes distinguishing between blue and yellow difficult

Why Create Accessible Products?

Creating accessible products is the right thing to do for your customers and it makes good business sense.

Customers with impairments and disabilities expect the products they are using for their abilities to be useable for them, just as all customers do. They want a seamless experience regardless of the products they are using or the accessibility issues they may encounter.

Lives Enhanced by Accessible Products

It's not only customers who benefit from the wide range of ability that accessible products provide. Employees at companies like yours are also taking advantage of these features to improve the ease in which they do their jobs. By creating accessible products, you are also helping people in their work environment be more comfortable and productive in their workplace. For employers, with accessible products and services available in their workplaces, they are able to offer a more diverse workplace.

In this next video you will meet John, a Software Development Engineer in Testing at Microsoft.

Transcript of video

John: This is what it looks like when a Humvee gets blown up. Now, this is the Humvee I was in. This is my side right here. The whole front of the Humvee is gone. I joined the National Guard shortly after 9/11. I made it through 8 months of combat, got blown up. I spent about two and a half months in the hospital and then the remainder of the two years healing and learning to walk again.

Obviously when I was coming back [to Microsoft] I was gonna need some accommodations. Ursula came, actually I think the second day I was here at work and took a look, and she says, “Well this obviously isn’t gonna do.” And so she did this whole evaluation.

Ursula: The chair was a godsend for him, that it reduced some of the pain that he was experiencing when he was sitting in a regular chair. And he showed me how he was using some of the other accessories that we provided to him so that he could be successful, effective, and productive.

John: She also brought that, Ergo Buddy lap desk with it. Because when you use one of these you can’t really get up to the desk. And then she spent, really about two hours getting everything configured.

End of transcript

(This video comes from Microsoft’s Accessibility website, which provides information about Microsoft accessibility features in our products as well as demos, tutorials, and case studies.)

Experience It - High Contrast

Microsoft offers a variety of built-in accessibility features in Windows. One of the features is High Contrast, which heightens the color contrast of some text and images on your computer screen. Increasing the contrast in colors reduces eyestrain and makes it easier to read for many people.

You Try It

Take a moment to explore this screen using High Contrast.

Use the keyboard shortcut to turn High Contrast on or off: left ALT + left SHIFT + PRINT SCREEN. You can also access the High Contrast option in the Ease of Access Center in your control panel.

If you need additional assistance, visit the High Contrast information page.

Overview

The accessibility market is global and it continues to grow. 57% of adult computer users could benefit from the use of accessible technology.

Research commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. shows:

  • 17% were very likely to benefit
  • 40% were likely to benefit
  • 43% were not likely to benefit

Study Results

Over half of your customers may be impacted by this!

The study found that the majority of working-age computer users (57%) would likely benefit from the use of accessible technology.

How were those figures determined?

Rather than asking if someone had a disability, the study asked task-based and employment–based questions for individuals to identify themselves as having a difficulty or impairment, as well as those who do not consider themselves to have an impairment, but report difficulty with tasks.

The survey contained the following types of questions:

Task-based questions

  • Please indicate how often, if ever, you have difficulty seeing the words and letters in ordinary newspaper print because of your eyesight.
  • If you usually wear glasses or contacts, please indicate whether you have difficulty while wearing glasses or contacts.
  • Please indicate how often, if ever, you have difficulty using a keypad on a phone or dialing the phone because of physical difficulties with your arms, hands, wrists or fingers.

Direct questions about impairments

  • Do you have a visual impairment?

Direct questions about impact on employment

  • Do you have a visual impairment that limits the kind or amount of work you can do?

Not Just a Niche

The results of the study showed that users with disabilities do not necessarily identify themselves as disabled. This may be due to a fear of job discrimination or they just do not think of themselves as disabled. The other discovery was that people have varying degrees of disability and some may come in and out of disability while recovery from an injury or surgery.

Studies have confirmed the numbers of users with specific difficulties and international studies are consistent with these results:

  • One in four experiences a visual difficulty.
  • One in four experiences pain in the wrists or hands.
  • One in five experiences hearing difficulty.
  • One in three is over 40 years of age.

Your Role in Creating Accessible Products

The Accessibility Development Lifecycle guides developers from planning through release and support in integrating accessibility into the product development lifecycle. Creating an end-to-end accessible product improves the available usability for all of your customers.

Organization Commitment

Your organization can get started to assess your commitment to making more accessible products by performing an accessibility assessment. This assessment can help your organization determine the nature and prioritization of the accessibility risks facing your organization.

Lives Enhanced by Accessible Products

Meet Jenny, a Director in the Microsoft Ad Center group. Take a look at how making accessibility a priority at Microsoft has been helpful for Jenny.

Transcript of video

Jenny: I have about eighty-five percent loss hearing. So it means I hear no high sounds, I hear only low sounds. I have a very patient team who’ve gone through a lot of training. So they know how to work with someone who’s deaf. They don’t make the obvious mistakes like talking when I’ve got my back to them. So there’s a lot of different combinations of things that I use on a daily basis.

Remote captioning is the ability to have closed captions on your laptop. And somebody on the other end is listening to what’s being said and is typing it. And that appears instantly on my laptop.

So what I don’t get from lip reading, cause you can only ever get sixty percent maximum from lip reading, the rest I get from what’s being signed and, and the emotions that go around, and the body language. So the combination really works.

The technology I use in my office. I, I’m plugged in when I’m on the phone. We have an IP phone system here, which works with my digital hearing aids. And I have a disco zone. When the telephone goes, the lights flash and tell me that it’s ringing.

End of transcript

(This video comes from Microsoft’s Accessibility website, which provides information about the accessibility features in our products as well as demos, tutorials, and case studies.)

Experience It - On-screen Keyboard

Microsoft offers a variety of built-in accessibility features in Windows. You've had the chance to see what high contrast looks like. Now take a moment to see what exploring this course feels like if you need to use an alternate input device instead of a standard keyboard. On-screen Keyboards assist users who are unable to utilize a normal keyboard, usually due to motor impairments.

You Try It

Take a moment to experience keyboard-only use by navigating through these screens using the On-Screen Keyboard rather than relying on your mouse. To view the access keys and keyboard shortcuts for this course, go to the course Keyboard Shortcuts page by pressing the K key.

To turn the On-Screen Keyboard on or off, open up the Ease of Access Center by pressing the Windows logo key ( ) + U, and then select On-Screen Keyboard. You can also access the On-Screen Keyboard option in the Ease of Access Center in the Control Panel.

If you need additional assistance, visit the On-Screen Keyboard page

Priorities

As a way to help prioritize risk management efforts in your organization, you will want to consider implementing tools and processes that include recommendations and action plans to help cover your organization against risk coverage and to help manage accessibility risk in your products.

Other priorities for creating accessible products could include:

  • Maximizing the potential of your technology by your customers
  • Demonstrate your organization’s commitment to accessibility in the marketplace
  • Address regulations, standards and procurement requirements in your accessibility product development cycle in an effort to avoid potential risks
  • Increased business opportunities

Changing Demographics

We know that 57% of working-age computer users would likely benefit from the use of accessible technology. Let's check your assumptions about the need for accessible solutions.

  1. What percentage of people with disabilities live in developing countries?
    Answer: 80% (source: UN Development Programme)
  2. What percentage of U.S. children under age 18 have activity limitations?
    Answer: 6.7% (source: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research)
  3. What is the projected estimate of the Hong Kong population that will be over 65 in 2029?
    Answer: 20% (source: South China Morning Post, August 11, 2008)
  4. What is the projected estimate of the U.S. population that will be over 65 in 2030?
    Answer: 20% (source: Administration on Aging)
  5. What percentage of companies on the FTSE 100 Index on the London Stock Exchange do not meet basic levels of accessibility (missing out on $147 million in revenue)?
    Answer: 75% (source: UN Enable)
  6. What percentage of American people with disabilities need special equipment to do their jobs effectively?
    Answer: 26% (source: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research)

Social Responsibility

As your organization prepares to build accessibility into your product development cycle, it is helpful to early-on determine your mission and goals for your organization in the area of Accessibility.

For example, Microsoft takes a strategic approach to accessibility by:

  • Continuing our longstanding commitment and leadership in accessibility research, awareness, and innovation.
  • Making the computer easier to see, hear, and use by building accessibility features into Microsoft products.
  • Ensuring that Windows is the best platform for accessibility innovation for assistive technology manufacturers, and
  • Building strong, collaborative relationships with key government agencies and organizations that advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.

Market Demands

People with disabilities constitute about 15% of the European population and many of them encounter barriers when using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and services. In certain cases, older people can be faced with similar problems. Accessible ICT products and services have now become a priority in Europe, due to the demographic shift: 18% of the European population was aged over 60 in 1990, while this is expected to rise to 30% by 2030.

A recent study in the USA found that 57% of working-age adults can benefit from the use of accessible technologies because they experience mild impairments or difficulties when using current technologies.

A 2002 study found that over 48% of 50 years+ persons in Europe considered that they are not being adequately addressed by manufacturers in the design of their products. Between 10 and 12 million were nevertheless potential customers of new mobile phones, computer and internet services.

The implications are clear: making the benefits of ICT available to the widest possible number of people is a social, ethical and political imperative. Furthermore, this creates markets of increasing economic significance.

Commission of the European Communities

Global Considerations

Over the past 35 years, information and communications has become an essential component of productivity and success in the global economy. Increasingly, ICT is also the fastest, most efficient, and sometimes only way to access valuable information and public services, as more countries pursue e-government initiatives and more organizations choose to interact online with the people they serve.

Many governments, educational institutions and businesses worldwide are striving to make the benefits of information technology available to the largest possible number of people, including those with disabilities and older people who often experience vision, hearing or dexterity impairments as they age. This has resulted in increased interest worldwide among organizations and governments in adopting technology and procurement policies, as well as technical standards, to help ensure accessibility for employees and citizens.

Consider the national and international accessibility policies and standards that exist in the countries in which your organization operates, as well as those you sell products to, and to build them into your product development cycle.

Voluntary Self Declaration of Accessibility

Many organizations choose to voluntarily share information about the accessibility of their products and how they meet common national and international accessibility standards. One example is the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). The VPAT was created as a collaborative effort between the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the U.S. government's General Services Office (GSA).

Learn more about the VPAT.

Meet Your Users

Accessibility efforts have previously been focused on people with severe disabilities, but the landscape has changed, and using this approach may be missing a huge percentage of users that simply want an easier computing experience. Remember that a majority of adult computer users would likely benefit from accessible technology. That group is made up of people who need to make adjustments, and people who choose to make adjustments, to improve their computing experience at work and at home.

Lives Enhanced by Accessible Products

It's time to meet Joshua, a Writer at Microsoft. Check out how accessible software has helped to improve his workplace experience.

Transcript of video

Joshua: So I contacted my manager during the summer of 2004 and let him know what I was thinking about and he welcomed me back and accommodated my needs. And, you know, I’d mentioned like well maybe I want to come back full time. And he cautioned and told me, “Why don’t you come back part time and we’ll see how things work out.”

He also made sure that I had the latest and greatest technologies. Brian also uses voice recognition software. And it’s helpful that he’s on the same software I am and has the same needs that I do.

[speaking to computer] How is next Friday? Question mark.

End of transcript

(The preceding video comes from the Microsoft Enable site Microsoft’s Accessibility website, which provides information about the accessibility features in our products as well as demos, tutorials, and case studies.)

Experience It - Narrator

Windows has another built-in accessibility feature called Narrator. Narrator is a text-to-speech program (or basic screen reader) that reads menus without leaving the active window.

You Try It

Take a moment to experience navigating through this course using voice commands rather than relying on your mouse or keyboard.

To turn Narrator on or off, open up the Utility Manager by pressing the Windows logo key ( ) + U, and then select Narrator. You can also access the Narrator option in the Ease of Access Center in the Control Panel.

If you need additional assistance, visit the Narrator information page.

The Four Categories

When discussing accessibility, people with disabilities and impairments is often the first category of users that come to mind. The population of people who may benefit from accessible solutions is much broader, however. There are four categories of technology users who may benefit from accessible technology:

  • Disabilities and Impairment
  • Age Related Conditions
  • Temporary Conditions
  • Customer Preferences

Disability & Impairments

Disabilities and impairments can include severe impairments such as blindness, deafness, immobility, speech impairments, and cognitive or neurological disabilities caused by an illness or an accident.

Age-Related Conditions

As people get older, they are more likely to experience impairments, whether it be permanent or temporary. Creating an accessible computing experience can help them be more productive and stay connected with friends and family.

Temporary Conditions

Temporary conditions can include physical difficulties such as repetitive stress injury, eye fatigue, or temporary immobility due to injury or surgery. A user may also be working in an environment where noise or lighting are an issue and accommodations may be required.

Customer Preference

Some customers want to simplify their computing experience and prefer an easier to use interface, color adjustments, different font size, or specialized input devices such as a trackball mouse, ergonomic keyboard or speech input.

Key Classes of Impairment

People can experience a mix and flux in impairments and there is a lot of variance in each class of disability. For example, cerebral palsy affects speech and mobility. Patients who are recovering from surgery may experience temporary disability. The five key classes of disabilities are:

ImpairmentExamples
VisionBlind, low vision
Color blind
HearingDeaf or hard of hearing
CognitiveConditions such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorder
SpeechCerebral palsy, which prevents the individual from communicating orally
Mobility /DexterityIllness (arthritis, multiple sclerosis)
Accidents (spinal cord injuries)

There is also an age-related decline in vision, dexterity, hearing, cognition, and speech characteristics among the aging workforce.

The expectations of technology are increasing as users want a seamless experience regardless of their disability or its severity. This further emphasizes the needs for a flexible solution that users can adapt to meet their needs.

Profiles of Accessibility in Action

Read inspiring profiles of accessibility in action among five individuals using accessibility options and assistive technology products on their computers.

Read inspiring profiles of accessibility. (external link)

Assistive Technology

What is the difference between accessible technology and assistive technology? While they are both used by people to improve their computing experiences, these two terms address slightly different needs.

Lives Enhanced by Accessible Products

Meet Greg, a Research Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, who uses both assistive and accessible technology in his workplace. Take a look at his experience using a unique type of mouse.

Transcript of video

Greg: The only major accommodation I have is my headset mouse which just takes over the functions of a regular mouse and allows me to do it hands free, as my hands don’t really work at all. So, that tracks my head movements on the screen and translates those into mouse movements. That Headmaster mouse, which is the only thing I used for my first five years here, that was a thousand dollar one-time purchase. That’s really pennies in the large scheme of things and that was literally almost the entire extent of my adaptive equipment. The box on top of the screen there is tracking my head movements, so the mouse pointer just follows wherever I’m looking, pretty much. When I want to select something, or use what would correspond to the mouse buttons, this puff tube on the right side of the headset, I just puff into that, and that operates the click for me. I can work with a lot of people in the company that maybe I end up working with, knowing sort of informally for a year or two, that might actually not know that I’m in a wheelchair because all we’ve ever done is talk on the phone or trade email.

End of transcript

(The preceding video comes from Microsoft’s Accessibility website, which provides information about the accessibility features in our products as well as demos, tutorials, and case studies.)

Experience It - Magnifier

Sometimes images or text on a computer screen are difficult to see. This is especially true for people whose vision is impaired. Windows has a built-in screen magnifier which enables you to choose magnification levels from 2 to 16 times the original. You can choose to track the mouse, keyboard, or text editing.

You Try It

Take a moment to access Magnifier.

To turn Magnifier on or off, open up the Utility Manager by pressing the Windows logo key ( ) + U, and then select Magnifier. You can also access the Magnifier option in the Ease of Access Center in the Control Panel.

If you need additional assistance, visit the Magnifier information page.

Terminology

Accessible technology is technology that you can adapt to meet your interaction preferences, regardless of disability or multiple disabilities.

Accessible technology is:

  • Flexible and adjustable
  • Adaptive
  • Enabling

Mainstream accessible technology is built into an existing platform or product; for example, speech recognition. Most of these built-in features can be accessed through the Windows Ease of Access Center where users can adapt their settings to meet their needs.

Third-party assistive technology (AT) products are add-ons to the operating system that must be compatible with applications and products. Every person is unique and using third-party products gives users more options to meet their specific needs.

Products

Assistive technology is critical in order for people with disabilities to be able to access software features.

Here is a list of some types of AT products commonly used by people with disabilities and impairments:

  • Alternative Input Devices
  • Braille Displays
  • Braille Printers
  • Braille Translators
  • Notetakers
  • Classroom Accommodations
  • Learning Aids (software)
  • Screen Readers
  • Screen Enlargers (software)
  • Speech Training Software
  • Speech Recognition / ASL Translation
  • TTY/TDD Interfaces

Spectrum of Needs

There is a spectrum within each of the five classes of disabilities. If you think of disabilities along a spectrum from less severe to more severe, you will see that users may find one or more AT products useful in their computing experience.

The AT solution for one disability may benefit a lot of other accessibility issues for other disabilities. For example, a screen reader intended for blind users may be a useful tool for a user with dyslexia.

Here are some examples of tools, and the users that might benefit from them:

Vision

Change the size and color of UI elements

  • May benefit users with: low vision, color deficits, or macular degeneration

Magnify the screen

  • May benefit users with: low vision or macular degeneration

Audio description of videos

  • May benefit users with: low vision, macular degeneration, or blindness

Refreshable Braille display

  • May benefit users with: blindness

Mobility

Fine-tune mouse and keyboard

  • May benefit users with: arthritis, paralysis/paraplegia, or quadriplegia

Speech recognition

  • May benefit users with: reduced dexterity, arthritis, or quadriplegia

Head-tracking mouse

  • May benefit users with: quadriplegia

On-screen keyboard

  • May benefit users with: reduced dexterity or quadriplegia

Hearing

Volume controls

  • May benefit users with: mild impairment, moderate impairment, or severe impairment

Visual cues

  • May benefit users with: mild impairment, moderate impairment, severe impairment, or deafness

Captioning of multimedia

  • May benefit users with: moderate impairment, severe impairment, or deafness

Sign language

  • May benefit users with: severe impairment or deafness

Cognitive

Reading and learning aids

  • May benefit users with: reading comprehension impairment or attention difficulties

Screen readers

  • May benefit users with: attention difficulties or visual comprehension impairment

Task reminders

  • May benefit users with: memory impairment or attention difficulties

Challenges

For your organization, there can be challenges in making your products accessible.

Even with accessibility features, the challenges include:

  • Low awareness of the product's features
  • Low awareness of how to find accessibility features
  • Confusion about how the accessibility features work

The rising cost of development and increased complexity of the software also present challenges, including:

  • Numerous existing technologies
  • Unique requirements of each disability
  • Evolving scenarios and devices
  • Time lapses between Information Technology and AT engineering cycles
  • Limited training resources and development tools

Lives Enhanced by Accessible Products

Meet Karen, a Content Publishing Manager at Microsoft. She uses accessibility features in software as well as assistive technology devices. You may recognize the High Contrast experience you had earlier in this course as you watch the video.

Transcript of video

Karen: I’ve worked at Microsoft for seven years as a full-time employee. Most people read black text on a white background, and for me that’s virtually impossible. To read text, it needs to be, for example, white on a black background. I use Windows and the accessibility features of Windows, so I can do things like, you know, reverse the text and enlarge things.

I have a gadget in my office that is called a mini-viewer, and it allows me to look at pages of text, and to reverse the text. It has a camera in it, and a bright light, and it magnifies them for me. So I hold it over the text and, I can read that. And I am now testing a portable version of that, something that I can carry around with me to meetings.

End of transcript

(The preceding video comes from Microsoft’s Accessibility website, which provides information about the accessibility features in our products as well as demos, tutorials, and case studies.)

Experience It - Keyboard Only

Sometimes using a mouse is not an option for people who are using a computer. In this situation the alternative is often to use keyboard navigation and shortcuts. Take a moment to review the keyboard navigation in this course by accessing the Help screen (press H on your keyboard).

You Try It

Use only keyboard navigation for the remainder of this section. As you navigate, consider how using only the keyboard changes your experience when interacting with the course.

Tools and Resources

Now that you've learned more about why developing accessible products and services is important, you may want to explore the subject further. Here are some online resources you might find helpful.

General Resources

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Section 508 of U.S. Rehabilitation Act

G3ict: The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs

Microsoft Windows Developer Center (MSDN) Web Site

Microsoft’s developer portal includes information about developer tools for accessibility.

Microsoft Accessibility Web Site

Microsoft’s Accessibility website includes information about accessible technology and AT products, Windows 7 and Internet Explorer (IE) 8 tutorials and demos for accessibility, and case studies about people using accessible Microsoft products.

Windows Ease of Access Center

In Windows, the Ease of Access Center is a single, centralized location where users can adjust the accessibility settings and manage assistive technology programs. For products built on the Windows platform, the Ease of Access Center serves as a central location where the user can set up the accessibility settings and programs available in Windows. In the Ease of Access Center, users can find quick access for setting up the accessibility settings and programs included in Windows. There is also a link to a questionnaire where the user can answer questions about themselves and Windows will then help suggest settings that they might find useful in making their computer easier to see, hear and use.

The Windows Ease of Access Center includes:

  • Ability to turn on and adjust accessibility settings and programs, Magnifier, Narrator, On-Screen Keyboard, and High Contrast
  • A questionnaire that recommends accessibility settings or programs based on the users' task-based input
  • Options to explore available settings by category settings such as use computer without a display, optimize the visual display, adjust the mouse, keyboard, and sounds, alternative input devices, and reasoning tasks

Course Completion

Congratulations, you have completed the Introduction to Accessibility for Developers course.

Throughout this introductory course you had the opportunity to meet people who utilize accessible solutions and spent some time exploring from their perspective. You can also see the benefits of developing more accessible technology solutions for your products and services and how beneficial it can be to include accessibility in your product development cycle in a programmatic way. Further courses are available on how to write accessible code and address platform-specific issues for accessibility. You can also consult the Microsoft Accessibility developer portal on MSDN for more information.

The courses in the Accessibility Training for Developers include:

  1. Introduction to Accessibility
  2. General Accessibility for Developers
  3. Windows (Win 32) Accessibility for Developers
  4. WinForms Accessibility for Developers
  5. WPF Accessibility for Developers
  6. Silverlight Accessibility for Developers