Ensuring IT Accessibility

By Michelle Bagur  |  Posted 2010-09-22 Print this article Print

Ensuring IT accessibility

Developers can ensure their work is accessible and 508-compliant by doing the following three things:

1. Using common sense

As you're developing software or a Website, the common sense rule is that, if it's not generally easy to use, it's likely not accessible. Simple elements such as ensuring that fonts are not too small and that the design is not overly complicated will help to improve the accessibility of your application or Website.

2. Leveraging automated tools

Readily available tools can test for the absence of required elements and attributes and determine whether Websites are well-formed and will work with automated devices. There are some free automated tools available such as Firefox Accessibility Extensions. Jim Thatcher's online book chapter, Accessibility Checking Software, is a good resource for information on six commercially available Web accessibility testing tools (including WebKing from Parasoft and WebXM from Watchfire).

3. Creating and following checklists

Research the regulations and requirements, and then create a list of the accessibility features your software or Website needs to include. For example, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG are a series of Web-related documents that are part of a larger set of accessibility guidelines. While the WCAG are not intended to cover every aspect of each disability, they do cover broad topics and give developers and Website designers a launching pad from which to create applications.

Michelle Bagur is a Senior Developer at EffectiveUI where she specializes in accessibility in Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). Michelle began her programming career in the gaming industry in Dallas and later moved to Denver to develop medical simulators utilizing haptic devices and advanced three-dimensional technology. Michelle earned her Master's degree in Integrated Science (a combination of computer science, physics and biology) from the University of Colorado at Denver before moving into the world of RIA development. She particularly enjoys the synthesis of technologies and platforms that RIA development encourages. She can be reached at michelle.bagur@effectiveui.com.

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