2001 Conference Proceedings

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Building for Accessibility- an Exploration of Software Design Guidelines and Testing

Ruth Loebl, Richard Orme
RNIB Technology in Learning and Employment

This session will establish the needs for software design guidelines and standards, and look at the various materials that have been developed by organizations such as IBM, Microsoft, the Trace Center and US Access Board.

The strengths of each of these guidelines will be discussed and consideration given whether one standard alone can be adopted.

The presenters are specialists in access to computer systems for people with visual impairments, but this session should prove useful for those concerned with other areas of accessibility.

The guidelines have to be applicable in real situations, and so two key areas will be discussed. RNIB TiLE is working with software developers as they work on the specification of new products. We will be using the existing guidelines to inform this process, and we shall explore the value of using the guidelines in assisting the developers in producing accessible software.

Accessible design standards also exist in order to influence purchasing and prevent the adoption of systems that subsequently present accessibility barriers to users. We shall consider how far the guidelines are successful in determining whether software is accessible and how testing for accessibility can be formalized.

There is much that has been contributed to this area by authorities in Human Computer Interaction. In this paper we will not take an academic approach, but will share the experience of practical work with developers and testing employers' computer systems for accessibility.


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