When I was in Japan a couple of weeks ago I got a great demonstration of some of the current and upcoming accessibility technologies coming out of the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory. One of these is aDesigner, “a disability simulator that helps Web designers ensure that their pages are accessible and usable by the visually impaired.”
What is aDesigner?
The aDesigner is a disability simulator that helps Web designers ensure that their pages are accessible and usable by the visually impaired.
Voice browsers and screen readers read aloud the text on Web pages and are used by visually impaired people. However, these devices are less effective with certain kinds of content, such as highly graphical material. Web developers can use aDesigner to test the accessibility and usability of Web pages for low-vision and blind people.
In Japan, aDesigner was bundled with the product Home Page Builder as a technology demonstration. In addition, aDesigner was a finalist in the Wall Street Journal�s First Global Technology Innovation Awards, and it won the Nikkei Innovator Award in 2004. This technology has also received much industry recognition.
How does it work?
The tool looks at such elements as the degree of color contrast on the page, the ability of users to change the font size, the appropriateness of alternate text for images, and the availability of links in the page to promote navigability. The tool also checks the pages’s compliance with accessibility guidelines. The result of this analysis is a report listing the problems that would prevent accessibility and usability by visually impaired users. In addition, each page is given an overall score. With this information, Web developers get immediate feedback and can address these obstacles before the pages are published.
I encourage you to take a look at this. aDesigner provides a lot of information about its analysis and provides very good explanations of the issues involved as well as possible fixes.