I’m going to be a bit indulgent and climb on my soap box for a minute. Making sure your application is accessible for tools like screen readers is important, and it’s important to address the issues up front when designing and developing the app. In my opinion, accessibility is an issue like performance, security, and localization. It can be easy for developers to neglect these issues as they develop; as a developer, I know that my first objective is to just get my program working. After that, these other issues need extra attention.
In today’s world, localization, performance, and security are pretty well emphasized. Localization is important if you want your application to enter the world market. If your application does not have good performance or is not secure, your customers are going to let you know pretty fast, one way or another. Issues with accessibility, however, might be slightly more exceptional. It might be quite a while before a user who needs an accessibility tool uses your application, but if your application doesn’t play well with accessibility, there’s not a lot the user can do. The only thing they can do is send you feedback asking for you to fix the problem. At that point, you can either fix the bug or you might decide that the fix is too costly for the stage of your product. At best, the user who found the issue needs to wait for the next release of the application. At worst, the application will never be usable for a segment of the population.
Others have said this long before me. See Accessibility is not a feature and Usability and Accessibility – are they the same thing?
As I delve deeper into UI Automation and WPF, I will probably spend more time discussing accessibility in this blog. We realize that there’s a lot to be said about accessibility that isn’t currently in the documentation. I plan on working on that in the near future. In the meantime, here are some resources to get you started learning about UI Automation, the new technology for accessibility.
And even though she dealt with Microsoft Active Accessibility, the predecessor of UI Automation, I wanted to include a link to Sara Ford’s blog. She spent several years on Accessibility for Visual Studio and her blog is a wealth of information for people who are interested in making applications accessible. She is my hero; I hope that someday I’m a repository of information about accessibility for those writing WPF application.