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August 11, 2009

Incorporating Accessibility into the Engineering Process Engineering

I am posting this on behalf of Jason Grieves who is a Program Manager on the Windows Accessibility Team. He and his colleague Masahiko Kaneko co-authored a book about our engineering process for accessibility. This is a great example of us helping the ecosystem build great software.

Our expectations of software are very high (as they should be!). We expect that the software we use will be reliable, secure, and perform well – we expect the software to “just work.” There are many ways that we experience software, some of us use the traditional input method of keyboard and mouse. I and many other people augment this with accessible solutions such as larger screens, speech recognition, and screen readers.

In Windows we consider accessibility just like reliability, performance, and security to be fundamental to all software in the operating system. Our feature teams create their software to meet these and other core requirements, which combine to create an operating system that meets the essential expectations of our users. In Windows 7 we continued the integration of accessibility requirements into our software engineering process. Accessibility, like the other fundamental requirements, has been planned, designed, implemented and tested in Windows 7.

Engineering Software for Accessibility

In an effort to enable software developers to create accessible Windows applications, we wanted to share our process with the community. We have captured this engineering process in a new book, Engineering Software for Accessibility. The book addresses three basic questions:

  • How do you plan for accessibility?
  • How do you design your software for accessibility?
  • How can you implement and test to your software to confirm it meets the accessible design?

We encourage software developers and anyone with an interest in accessible software to get a copy of our book. You can download a free DOC version of the eBook (right-click to download), or order a paper copy from Amazon.

You will learn that properly implemented accessibility enables access to Windows applications for users with a variety of capabilities. We are pleased to offer you the ability to follow much of process our engineers used to make Windows 7 the most accessible operating system Microsoft has yet produced!

Engineering Software for Accessibility is the latest of several efforts to assist Developers and Testers create accessible solutions. Early in the Windows 7 development cycle we released two accessibility testing tools as open source on CodePlex. UI Accessibility Checker and UI Automation Verify are designed to check the accessibility of applications that implement programmatic access via the MSAA or UI Automation APIs.

We look forward to trying you accessible Windows software!

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