Accessibility Standards for Software Applications

In the human–computer interaction, computer accessibility refers to the accessibility of the software to all people regardless of disability type or severity of the physical impairment. It is a software concern when hardware or software or a combination of both is used by a person with disabilities.

Various types of these disabilities or impairments include hearing impairment, visual impairment, dyslexia, locomotors impairments, cerebral palsy, etc. Modern software technologies make the entire operation easier for the physically challenged users of all ages. This feature is also known as Assistive Technology.

Certain accessibility standards for software applications are applied to the operating systems. These standards can be achieved by various advanced technologies and by following the accessibility design guidelines. In order to meet the standards, an electronic device must have some accessibility features or provisions, compatible with the system or the application software. For example, the way a text is to be written for display needs an assistive technology for the desired output.

What are the accessibility features?

A number of commercially available operating systems and software applications have built-in features in the program known as the accessibility features. These features can be turned on or off by the user.
A few examples of these features are reversing the colors, visual prompt to highlight the errors, “sticky keys.”, etc.
There are well-defined indications on the screen that move among the interactive interface elements with the change of input focus. This focus is programmatically exposed so that the assistive technology can track the focus and the changes.

Accessibility Design Guidelines

• Use the right color to emphasize or enhance the information shown by any means.
• Accessibility aids need the keyboard location identification to pass information to the users.
• It exposes the screen elements. The Accessibility aids use the Windows messages, off-screen models and the Active Accessibility to collect the information about the objects on the monitor.
• It provides a general user interface that is very flexible to meet the user’s preferences and needs.
• Keyword access is a basic part of Microsoft Windows interface and is used in all types of applications. The well-designed keyboard interfaces help the users with disabilities.
• The layout assists the users who cannot see the object’s context on the monitor.
• The users can avoid making inserts like CD ROMS and swap disks.
• Well-designed mouse input supports make the applications easier for the users.
• It helps in multi-tasking.
• The sizes of graphics and texts affect the usability and accessibility. Thus, the users can size objects on the monitors.
• Users are working in their environments that need low sound volume, require sound alternatives.
• The time events are adjustable by the users. Users who have difficulties to read and react to the briefly displayed information can also perform the tasks successfully within specific time limits.
Overall, accessibility standards for software applications are generalized to all types of users around the globe, regardless of the extent of physical disabilities they have. It is crucial that software applications meet required accessibility standards to involve the maximum number of users and embrace their needs and peculiarities.