Visual Basic

Where Do I Go From Here?

In reviewing the AAccess sample, we've seen how to call the base functions for retrieving accessible objects and how to retrieve some of the properties of those objects. These are the beginnings of using Active Accessibility to expose objects and communicate between applications. The MSAASDK is an evolving architecture and I recommend that you check Microsoft's Web site for updates to the SDK and to accessibility issues in general. See the section "More Information," below.

Making Accessibility Part of Your Development Process

Now that you know some of the technical aspects of making your applications more accessible, you need a means of controlling a development project and ensuring that the accessibility aspects are met. You probably already have a process in place for your development projects. Here we'll go over some suggestions for incorporating accessibility considerations into that process. Keep in mind that a development process is nonlinear; I personally have never known a development life cycle to go cleanly straight through to the end without discovering something new at the next stage that changes what was decided in the previous stage.

The Planning Stage

Every process begins with a plan. This is the stage where you set your goals and decide what it is you want to accomplish with your software application. As you review potential features of your software, determine how these features will be affected by accessibility issues. For example, let's say you decide to put a scrolling banner across the top of your introductory window. Keep a list handy with the disability categories we covered earlier in this chapter. Go through the list and decide whether this feature will impact anyone within those categories in a negative, or a positive, way. Will the scrolling text cause problems for a screen reader used by a blind person? Will someone with cognitive limitations be distracted and confused by the moving text?

It's a good idea at this early stage to include users with disabilities in the discussions. If you don't have anyone on the planning team, find someone to review the plan once you begin to get it outlined. The reviewer should be an expert in disabilities, or you'll need to find several people with different disabilities to be reviewers.