Microsoft Launches Accessibility Portal for Developers

Microsoft unveiled a new Web site yesterday that provides resources for developers to improve and test the accessibility of their applications. The idea is to make it easier for those with visual and hearing impairments to use software.

The new MSDN site, called Microsoft Accessibility Labs, has links to technologies, tools and blogs associated with improving accessibility.

One of the new accessibility tools on the site is AccChecker, which helps check the accuracy of user interfaces (UI) that support Microsoft Active Accessibility, a technology for applications that run on Windows. Developers can scan the application's UI for errors using the tool. They can also use the tool's APIs to create regression tests or create batch file tests using a command-line interface.

A second new tool is UIA Verify, a test automation framework for implementations of Microsoft User Interface Automation (UIA). Microsoft UIA is designed to work on the .NET Framework, starting from version 3.0. Microsoft UIA is designed for Windows Presentation Foundation-supported operating systems, including Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Both tools were released through CodePlex, Microsoft's developer site for open source projects.

"By releasing AccChecker and UIA Verify as open-source tools, Microsoft enables the developer community to improve and extend the tools so that they keep pace with developers' changing needs and requirements," stated Norm Hodne, Microsoft's Windows Accessibility lead, in a press release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.