Microsoft now offers accessibility information as open source code


Making computers, software and the Internet more accessible to users with physical disabilities is the goal of Microsoft’s two Accessibility Insights applications, which are now available in open source code.

The two free tools, Accessibility Insights for Windows and Accessibility Insights for Web, help developers find and fix common accessibility issues early in the software development lifecycle. They can be used as stand-alone tools or integrated through their rule engines into a developer’s building process, wrote Keith Ballinger, general manager of development services at Microsoft, in a March 12 post on the site. Company web. Free blog.

“We are designing, building and launching more accessible products to promote inclusion” for users with a wide range of physical disabilities, wrote Ballinger. “That’s why we created Accessibility Insights, a first step in developing tools that help developers solve accessibility issues early in the design process. Our goal with Accessibility Insights is not to reinvent the wheel, but to modernize existing technology and optimize it for use in developer workflows.

The apps are based on open source technology from Deque Systems, which works with companies to make their websites and mobile apps accessible to people with disabilities, Ballinger wrote. The Accessibility Insights apps are part of Microsoft’s broader inclusion efforts that also involve inclusive recruiting and the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Tester program, he added.

“We’re driven by the promise of more accessible products for more people,” Ballinger wrote. “That’s why we publish Accessibility Insights to the open source and accessibility communities. It is all ours now, and together we will continue to make it a better tool and build a more accessible future. “

To encourage new open-source efforts, Deque Systems is providing a GitHub problem brief for Accessibility Insights for the web and color contrast detection heuristics for Accessibility Insights for Windows, Ballinger wrote. Microsoft contributed its Windows Rules Engine to the ax accessibility project so that all major platforms could be covered.

Identify common accessibility issues in code

Using automated verification systems, Accessibility Insights can quickly identify common accessibility issues in a developer’s code, allowing them to spot code issues before proceeding with additional testing that requires human judgment. . These human tests also benefit from the help of the tools, Ballinger wrote, which helps the tests run more smoothly.

“By focusing on easy-to-use tools, we hope to help make accessibility more accessible,” Ballinger wrote.

After uploading the code for both Accessibility Insights tools, developers can join open source projects for Windows or for the web on GitHub.

The Accessibility Insights tool for Windows includes a live inspection feature that allows developers to verify that an item in an application has the correct UI automation properties when they hover over the item or set. keyboard focus on it. Additionally, the FastPass feature is a lightweight two-step process that helps developers identify common, high-impact accessibility issues in under five minutes.

In-app troubleshooting capabilities allow developers to diagnose and resolve specific accessibility issues, including viewing supported models by monitoring and calling associated UI methods to See if an item responds correctly to user input and recording application events to verify that an application is generating the expected events.

The Accessibility Insights for Web Tool is a Chrome extension that helps developers find and fix accessibility issues in apps and websites. It includes FastPass to help developers quickly identify common, high-impact accessibility issues and assessment capabilities that allow anyone with HTML skills to verify that a web application or website is 100 compliant. % to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA.

“We value ideas from a diverse community to make sure we’re building the best tooling in the industry,” Ballinger wrote. “Together, with partners, developers, designers and the disability community, we can ensure equal access to information for all. “


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