Digital Accessibility for Engineering
Building accessible software is best accomplished by incorporating accessibility best practices in each stage of development from design to release. Here are tips and resources to get you started.
Talk To People with Disabilities
Find out what they want from your product. People with disabilities are the original life hackers. When a product or solution doesn’t meet their needs, they find a way to fill that need themselves.
Here’s a great example. Many gamers with disabilities use modified video game controllers, installing bigger buttons, sip/puff devices, mounts to enable one-handed play, etc. It took a while, but eventually Microsoft turned that idea into the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC). The XAC takes into account the needs of people with disabilities and accessibility features are built into the product. Microsoft has won awards for this brilliant piece of design.
And that’s because Microsoft did the research to figure out what needs aren’t being met by existing controllers. You can do the same. Go and talk with people with disabilities that use products like yours. See what they’re doing to solve the accessibility problems that they’re facing. Those mods and hacks express a specific need that exists that isn’t being met. Your product can be the one that meets those needs.
Have people with disabilities test your UI & UX
Have a sketch or wireframe?
If you have a sketch or wireframe, take it and talk through it with people with different disabilities. Explore how they solve problems. Understand their motivations and the way they think. Work with people that use voice recognition software to talk aloud about how they’d approach the interface and what voice commands they might give to accomplish tasks.
Have a Figma, Sketch, InDesign, or Adobe XD prototype?
Get people with low vision to review it. Even though it isn’t coded, you can still get feedback on colors, layout, interaction flows, and more.
Have a coded HTML prototype?
Get people that use a screen reader to run through the prototype and give you feedback.
Fitting right into your flow
With this suite of tools your team can immediately surface common accessibility issues at the outset, so team can then fix these issues early on instead of letting them continue to accumulate and become further entrenched.
- Close gaps in development testing
- Patch accessibility holes in your CI/CD
- Save time by preventing greater remediation work
- Get immediate reads on issues with steps to fix