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Making sure your technology measures up

3 wise girlsThe increasing number of pupils with disabilities learning in mainstream schools, and the rise of computer use in education means that testing your product to ensure it complies with accessibility guidelines and best practice makes sense.

This is not just a moral duty, but a legal one, as anyone treating a disabled person less favourably can be prosecuted under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The good news is that there is lots of support available and modifications can be carried out to meet pupils’ needs, such as using:

  • Clickable buttons large enough for users with mobility problems
  • Software to read the website/application for those with visual problems
  • Devices to input information without using the keyboard, with a single switch or voice recognition system.
  • Touch-sensitive computer screens or a touch-sensitive tablet that corresponds to areas on the computer screen.

For more details read Epicentre’s mini-white paper or call them direct on 01273 728686

Accessible applications and websites work better for everyone, not just those with a special need or limited ability. So an accessible product does a better job.

Software testing company Epicentre has a dedicated Accessibility Lab, which has been involved in this area since the late 1990s – longer than any other accessibility testing service.

When evaluating your product, Epicentre recommends it is compatible with the following assistive tools and technologies so that it reaches the widest audience possible and reduces the need for a costly redesign.

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Widely regarded as setting the international standard for web accessibility, the (WAI) outlines guidelines and criteria that websites must meet.

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

JAWS for Windows

The industry-standard screen reading software application. With well-designed websites and applications, JAWS will read screen text content and alt-text to the user via its synthesised ‘voice’. Check all page elements and attributes to ensure that a JAWS user can navigate and use your product.

http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/jaws-product-page.asp

Supernova

This is s screen reader with magnifier and Braille support. Users with visual impairments can access applications and websites via synthesised speech and screen magnification.

http://www.yourdolphin.com/productdetail.asp?id=1

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Voice recognition software enabling the user to write emails, create documents; browse the internet and access applications by speaking.

http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/

Bobby

Helps web designers to create standard compliant websites. Bobby uses guidelines established by W3C to help increase accessibility.

http://www.watchfire.com/products/webxm/bobby.aspx

These are the main assistive tools and technologies, though there are others available (e.g. Windows Eyes screenreader, Lift automated accessibility checker etc.). For a more comprehensive list, see W3C’s website:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/complete

To discuss any issues raised by this article, contact Lucy Fisher on 01273 728 686 or email lucy.fisher@epic.co.uk.

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