Accessibility Tools for Web Developers       


 Peter J. Fay photo Phillip D (Phill) Jenkins photo Calvin B. (Cal) Swart photoShari Trewin photo

Accessibility Tools for Web Developers - overview

People with disabilities use many techniques when browsing the Web. For example, some people change the font size and color scheme of pages, others control the browser using a single button, or with speech. Accommodating this diversity can be a daunting process for Web content developers. Automated tools can identify a small fraction of potential accessibility issues, but testing with users is a more effective approach. Unfortunately this is typically done late in development, when problems may be difficult or expensive to fix.

This project explores techniques for supporting accessible design early in the development process. Our prototype tool - accessibilityWorks Developer Edition - simplifies and unifies the process of finding accessibility problems, understanding them, and choosing solutions. A developer can step through a set of visualizations designed to reveal problems that cannot be automatically identified. See the Web page transformations provided by our previous accessibilityWorks project, and aDesigner (Tokyo Research Lab) for examples. We are collaborating with IBM's Human Ability and Accessibility Center to leverage existing IBM technology for automated Web content checking.

An important feature of this tool is the provision of example solutions alongside the visualizations and problem reports. We hypothesize that by putting relevant solutions at developers' fingertips, even those with little or no previous experience will be able to produce high quality content quickly.