Help Us Make Visual Studio More Accessible!

I’m Aaron Brethorst, the Program Manager responsible for Accessibility and User Interface Consistency throughout Visual Studio. The team I work with is very interested in building up a contact list of our users who use Visual Studio with any and all accessibility settings enabled: Screen readers and other assistive technologies. High contrast mode. Large fonts….


The Fundamentals of Accessibility

Consider this article your one-stop shop for all things IAccessible.  Below is a summary of the most important topics under my accessibility category.      Getting Started   New to Accessibility?  So was I three years ago.  Get caught-up by reading my MSDN whitepaper on Testing for Accessibility.  Also, remember that Accessibility isn’t a feature. …


Accessibility in Visual Studio

Sara Ford, an incredibly talented tester on VS Platform, my team, recently moved over to work on testing the Visual Studio Editor. As part of this transition, she has left her role in the Visual Studio Accessibility team. As part of this transition, we decided that it made the most sense to create a shared…



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Testing for Accessibility: Keyboard, High Contrast, and Assistive Technology Compatibility

Consider this my testament as an Accessibility Tester.  I am a Software Designer Engineer in Test on the Visual Studio Core Team.  My team owns the critical aspects of the integrated shell, and I am responsible for the quality of the shell’s Accessibility.   When I first started Accessibility testing two years ago, I had…


Visual Studio Core Team’s Accessibility Lab Tour Activity

What s the Accessibility Lab? The Accessibility Technology Group on campus has a lab with numerous licensed-versions of Assistive Technologies (ATs), including Motion Trackers, Screen Readers, Screen Magnifiers, Braille Displays, Speech Recognition, and so forth.  Their lab is opened to any team or person on Microsoft campus interested in using Assistive Technology.  Using their lab is so straight-forward that…


Watch Out for these Unpopular Accessibility Bugs

I attended a few get-togethers with some Assistive Technology vendors a while back when they were on campus for an Accessibility conference.  While eating dinner with one particular AT vendor, I had asked him what we, Visual Studio , could do to improve our Assistive Technology compatibility story.  Next thing I knew, I was writing…


Normal, Unavailable, Offscreen, and Invisible AA States Explained

I’m often asked about the relationship among Normal (same as Visible), Unavailable, and Offscreen, and Invisible AA States.  Here’s my best guess at an explanation.   What the docs say   Starting with the MSAA SDK Docs on Object State Constants, the following terms are defined as follows:   STATE_SYSTEM_NORMAL – Indicates that the object…


Questions and answers about AA-Naming your control

I’m often asked “What’s the correct name for this control?” There are many variations to this question, for example: 1.      Does this control need an AA name? 2.      Do we change the AA name if a control’s caption or label changes? 3.      Do we add the AA description to the AA name, in order to…


Usability and Accessibility – are they the same thing?

The more I study UI Consistency and improving the user experience, and the more feedback I hear from customers who use accessibility features, I’m really starting to wonder if Usability and Accessibility are really just two sides of the same coin? Yes, there is a difference between the two. Usability – how well a user understands the…