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For Designers   |   For Users


Wikipedia logoAccessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a system is usable by as many people as possible without modification. The disability rights movement advocates equal access to social, political and economic life which includes not only physical access but access to the same tools, organisations and facilities which we all pay for.

Computer accessibility refers to the usability of a computer system by people with disabilities or age-related limitations. It is largely a software concern. However, when hardware or software is used to customize a computer for a disabled person, that equipment is known as Assistive Technology. There are several types of disabilities that impact computer use: Cognitive disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADHD or autism. Complete or partial blindness, including color blindness. Deaf or hard of hearing. Motor or dexterity disability such as paralysis, cerebral palsy, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Impairments due to aging. Designing with accessibility in mind can often enhance usability for all users and for automated access to the site, such as by search engines.

For Designers


LIFT simplifies the process of compliance with W3C and Section 508 guidelines and allows users to define corporate or agency-wide guidelines to meet their specific needs. Evaluating web pages in monitor mode automates accessibility and saves precious development time and money.

MAGpie Composite of varous logos
Developers of Web- and CD-ROM-based multimedia need an authoring tool for making their materials accessible to persons with disabilities. The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) has developed two such tools, version 1.0 and 2.01 of the Media Access Generator (MAGpie), for creating captions and audio descriptions for rich media.

Web authors can use A-Prompt to make their Web pages accessible to people with disabilities. The A-Prompt software tool examines Web pages for barriers to accessibility, performs automatic repairs when possible, and assists the author in manual repairs when necessary. These enhanced Web pages are available to a larger Internet audience.

Bobby is the classic tool for aiding web authors in assessing their pages for accessibility. Because a significant portion of the guidelines are things that cannot be verified automatically, Bobby should only be used as one initial step in the assessment process, not the final arbiter.

With CPC-700NLE CaptionMaker software you can position, time code, and generate closed captions and subtitles without using any hardware caption encoder or subtitle character generator. The result is better video quality without going down a generation, plus it saves you the expense of purchasing any additional hardware, like closed caption encoder and time code reader.

Information for Faculty

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0Photo of course developers working

Web Design from Scratch - Tutorials

WebAIM Section 508 Checklist

Making Online Information Accessible to Students with Disabilities - Parts 1 and 2

Accessibility for Web Developers

Accountability of Accessibility and Usability

Accessibility on the Mac
Course developer on computer

Side by Side WCAG vs. 508

An Introduction To Accessible Web Design

ADA Web Tools


Screen Reader Simulation

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For Users

A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen. This is then presented to a blind user as speech (by text-to-speech) or by driving a braille display. Screen readers are used by people with little or no functional vision: people with some vision often use screen magnifiers.

JAWS® for Windows®

The most popular screen reader worldwide, JAWS® for Windows® works with the user's PC to provide access to today’s software applications and the Internet. With its internal software speech synthesizer and the computer’s sound card, information from the screen is read aloud, providing technology to access a wide variety of information, education and job related applications. JAWS also outputs to refreshable braille displays, providing unmatched braille support of any screen reader on the market.

Microsoft Text-to-Speech PackageComposite of various logos
To enable Microsoft Reader to take advantage of existing speech technologies, simply install the new Microsoft Reader Text-to-Speech (TTS) Package 1.0, which enables voiced reading and navigation features for Microsoft Reader for Windows-based PCs and laptops (Note: at present, this feature is only enabled for the PC desktop, laptop, and Tablet PC versions).

Texthelp Systems
Texthelp Systems Inc. has developed software products which fall into many classes .... accessibility software, dyslexia software, text to speech software, to name just three. Our solutions are suitable for individuals and corporate or government organizations, to overcome accessibility difficulties such as dyslexia or simply as language learning aids.

Apple VoiceOver
For those with vision disabilities, Tiger includes VoiceOver, a built-in screen reader that provides keyboard control of the computer, enhanced screen magnification options, and spoken English descriptions of what’s on the screen. VoiceOver enables many users with special needs to work collaboratively with other Mac users and use a Macintosh without assistance.

Window-Eyes Professional is one of the most stable screen reader available on the market today. Window-Eyes gives total control over what you hear and how you hear it. Plus, with its enhanced Braille (Braille Printers, Notetakers, and Displays), support that control is extended to what you feel as well. On top of all that, the power and stability of Window-Eyes means that most applications work right out of the box with no need for endless tinkering in order to get them to function properly.

Screen Reader
The company offers several packages: LookOUT is a powerful but easy-to-use screen reader that makes the computer talk. Magnus magnifies everything on the screen up to 16 times. Scan2Text lets the user read printed text without fuss by placing a book or paper on the computer scanner. "No Blind Mice" Video helps those teaching blind computer learners. The company provides after-sales support, and manuals on our disks and in clear print, on tape and in braille.

Allan eC
Allan eC is a communication platform that gives you the possibility to communicate in the way that suites you best. Allan eC is a multifunction-terminal for sign language, text and voice, offering better telecommunications in many situations. Allan eC is a kit to be added to a computer. It contains a camera, a video capture board, headset, alerting system adapter, user manual and software. Allan eC is developed for communication in the Internet and other network using the IP protocols.

iCommunicator™ promotes independent communication for persons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or experience unique communication challenges by allowing effective two-way communication to occur in most natural environments. The iCommunicator™ translates in real-time: •Speech to Text; Speech/Text to Video Sign-Language; Speech/Text to Computer Generated Voice.

Disability Services for Students

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Last updated -05/16/07

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