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.