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Design and build inclusive software with accessibility in mind. These inform how our experiences look, feel, function, and behave. This new design philosophy is called inclusive design. The idea is to design software with everyone in mind from the very beginning. This is in contrast to viewing accessibility as a technology you bolt on at the end of the development process in order to satisfy some small group of users.
Anyone can experience a disability. It is a common human trait to be excluded. Inclusive design creates better products for everyone. Consider the curb cutouts that you now find on most street corner sidewalks. They were clearly intended to be used by people in wheelchairs. But now nearly everyone uses them, including people with baby strollers, bicyclists, skateboarders. Even pedestrians will often use curb cutouts because they are there and provide a better experience.
The television remote control could be considered an assistive technology AT for someone with physical limitations. And yet, today it is nearly impossible to buy a television without one. Before children learn to tie their shoes, they can wear slip-on or easy fastening shoes. Shoes that are easy to put on and take off are often preferred in cultures where shoes are removed before entering a home. They are also better for people with dexterity issues such as arthritis or even a temporarily broken wrist.
We focus on what unifies people — human motivations, relationships, and abilities. This drives us to consider the broader social impact of our work. The result is an experience that has a diversity of ways for all people to participate. Next, we challenge ourselves to create emotional connections. Human-to-human interactions can inspire better human-to-technology interaction.
The result is an experience that feels like it was created for one person. We start with simplicity as the ultimate unifier. When we reduce clutter people know what to do next. Delightful experiences evoke wonder and discovery. We design these moments to feel like a welcomed change in tempo. The result is an experience that has momentum and flow. The majority of computer users 54 per-cent are aware of some form of assistive technology, and 44 percent of computer users use some form of it, but many of them are not using AT that would benefit them Forrester A study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Forrester Research found that over half — 57 percent — of computer users in the United States between the ages of 18 and 64 could benefit from assistive technology.
Most of these users did not identify themselves as having a disability or being impaired but expressed certain task-related difficulties or impairments when using a computer. Forrester also found the following number of users with these specific difficulties: One in four experiences a visual difficulty.
One in four experiences pain in the wrists or hands. One in five experiences hearing difficulty. Besides permanent disabilities, the severity and types of difficulties an individual experiences can vary throughout their life. There is no such thing as a normal human. Our capabilities are always changing. Being all unique makes us all the same. Microsoft is dedicated to conducting computer science and software engineering research with goals to enhance the computing experience and invent novel computing technologies.
See Current Microsoft Research and Development Projects aimed at making the computer more accessible, and easier to see, hear, and interact with.
If you're all in, then this section is for you. It describes the practical design steps to consider when implementing inclusive design for your app. Define the potential users of your app. Think through all of their different abilities and characteristics. For example, age, gender, language, deaf or hard of hearing users, visual impairments, cognitive abilities, learning style, mobility restrictions, and so on.
Is your design meeting their individual needs? Meet with potential users who have diverse characteristics.
Make sure you are considering all of their needs when designing your app. For example, Microsoft discovered that deaf users were turning off toast notifications on their Xbox consoles. When we asked actual deaf users about this, we learned that toast notifications were obscuring a section of closed captioning. The fix was to display the toast slight higher on the screen. This was a simple solution that was not necessarily obvious from the telemetry data that initially revealed the behavior.
In the design stage, the development framework you will use i. UWP, Win32, web is critical to the development of your product. If you have the luxury of choosing your framework, think about how much effort it will take to create your controls within the framework. What are the default or built-in accessibility properties that come with it? Which controls will you need to customize?
Use standard Windows controls whenever possible. These controls are already enabled with the technology necessary to interface with assistive technologies. Once you have your framework, design a logical hierarchy to map out your controls. The logical hierarchy of your app includes the layout and tab order of controls. When assistive technology AT programs, such as screen readers, read your UI, visual presentation is not sufficient; you must provide a programmatic alternative that makes sense structurally to your users.
A logical hierarchy can help you do that. It is a way of studying the layout of your UI and structuring each element so that users can understand it. A logical hierarchy is mainly used:. A logical hierarchy is a great way to address any potential usability issues. If you cannot structure the UI in a relatively simple manner, you may have problems with usability. A logical representation of a simple dialog box should not result in pages of diagrams. For logical hierarchies that become too deep or too wide, you may need to redesign your UI.
For more information, download the Engineering Software for Accessibility eBook. When designing the visual UI, ensure that your product has a high contrast setting, uses the default system fonts and smoothing options, correctly scales to the dots per inch dpi screen settings, has default text with at least a 5: One of the built-in accessibility features in Windows is High Contrast mode, which heightens the color contrast of text and images.
For some people, increasing the contrast in colors reduces eyestrain and makes it easier to read. When you verify your UI in high contrast mode, you want to check that controls, such as links, have been coded consistently and with system colors not with hard-coded colors to ensure that they will be able to see all the controls on the screen that a user not using high contrast would see.
To ensure readability and minimize any unexpected distortions to the text, make sure that your product always adheres to the default system fonts and uses the anti-aliasing and smoothing options. If your product uses custom fonts, users may face significant readability issues and distractions when they customize the presentation of their UI through the use of a screen reader or by using different font styles to view your UI, for instance. For users with vision impairments, having a scalable UI is important.
User interfaces that do not scale correctly in high dots-per-inch DPI resolutions may cause important components to overlap or hide other components and can become inaccessible. The updated Section of the Americans with Disability Act ADA , as well as other legislations, requires that the default color contrasts between text and its background must be 5: For large texts point font sizes, or 14 points and bolded the required default contrast is 3: About 7 percent of males and less than 1 percent of females have some form of color deficiency.
Users with colorblindness have problems distinguishing between certain colors, so it is important that color alone is never used to convey status or meaning in an application. As for decorative images such as icons or backgrounds , color combinations should be chosen in a manner that maximizes the perception of the image by colorblind users. If you design using these color recommendations from the beginning, your app will already be taking significant steps toward being inclusive.
Our new feedback system is built on GitHub Issues. For more information on this change, please read our blog post. Inclusive design users There are essentially two types of users of assistive technology AT: Those who need it, because of disabilities or impairments, age-related conditions, or temporary conditions such as limited mobility from a broken limb Those who use it out of preference, for a more comfortable or convenient computing experience The majority of computer users 54 per-cent are aware of some form of assistive technology, and 44 percent of computer users use some form of it, but many of them are not using AT that would benefit them Forrester Practical design steps If you're all in, then this section is for you.
Describe the target audience Define the potential users of your app. Talk to actual humans with specific needs Meet with potential users who have diverse characteristics.
Choose a development framework wisely In the design stage, the development framework you will use i. Design a logical hierarchy for your controls Once you have your framework, design a logical hierarchy to map out your controls. A logical hierarchy is mainly used: To provide programs context for the logical reading order of the elements in the UI To identify clear boundaries between custom controls and standard controls in the UI To determine how pieces of the UI interact together A logical hierarchy is a great way to address any potential usability issues.
Design appropriate visual UI settings When designing the visual UI, ensure that your product has a high contrast setting, uses the default system fonts and smoothing options, correctly scales to the dots per inch dpi screen settings, has default text with at least a 5: High contrast setting One of the built-in accessibility features in Windows is High Contrast mode, which heightens the color contrast of text and images.
System font settings To ensure readability and minimize any unexpected distortions to the text, make sure that your product always adheres to the default system fonts and uses the anti-aliasing and smoothing options.