Jack McDowell – Oregon Statewide Quality Assurance Program
The goal of accessibility in software systems is to produce software that is accessible to users independent of any limitations that they may have. Accessibility has traditionally been focused on physical disabilities, and therefore building in accessibility usually means complying with WCAG 2.0 AA, section 508, or similar standards. Equating accessibility with standards compliance creates two important issues.
First, while content may be technically accessible, standards rarely measure the ease of use and understanding of the content which they are evaluating. This limitation is not limited to accessibility per-se, but can be applied to software standards that provide control guidance in general, such as ISACA or NIST standards.
Second, by thinking of accessibility in terms of diversity and inclusion, we are able to expand the scope of accessibility beyond physical disabilities to also include cultural, linguistic and educational factors in our understanding of accessibility.
In order to achieve the goals of inclusive software, accessibility must take on a broader role and move beyond testing against predetermined standards and instead be built into the Software Development Lifecycle as a crucial component of a software project. By doing so, we can expand the margins of our community of meaning to which a software speaks.
This paper will look at strategies which can aid in accomplishing a broader vision of accessibility, addressing standards as well as multi lingual websites, plain language, and website design.