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MS guidelines for application accessibility

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 14:04:38 -0400 (EDT)
To: WAI AU Guidelines <w3c-wai-au@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9905191403560.13405-100000@tux.w3.org>
(This is a lynx dump)

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   [16]For Developers, Writers and Designers: [17]For Applications
Checklist of Accessibility Design Guidelines

   This checklist is a summary of accessibility design guidelines. For
   details, see [18]The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible
   Software Design. The recommendations fall into the following areas:
     * [19]Keyboard Access
     * [20]Exposing the Keyboard Focus
     * [21]Exposing Screen Elements
     * [22]Color
     * [23]Size
     * [24]Sound
     * [25]Timings
     * [26]Unexpected Side Effects
     * [27]Mouse Input
     * [28]Customizable User Interface
     * [29]Layout
     * [30]Verification
     * [31]Documentation
Basic Principles

   You should follow these basic principles when designing an accessible
     * Flexibility. Provide a flexible, customizable user interface for
       your application that can accommodate the user's needs and
       preferences. For example, you should allow the user to choose font
       sizes, reduce visual complexity, and customize the arrangement of
     * Choice of input methods. Support the user's choice of input
       methods by providing keyboard access to all features and by
       providing access to common tasks using simple mouse operations.
     * Choice of output modalities. Support the user's choice of output
       methods through the use of sound and visuals and of visual text
       and graphics. You should combine these output methods redundantly
       or allow the user to choose his or her preferred output method.
     * Compatibility with accessibility aids. Use programming techniques
       and user-interface elements that are compatible with accessibility
       aids, such as blind access, screen magnification, and voice input
     * Consistency. Make your application's behavior consistent with
       other Windows-based applications and with system standards. For
       example, you should support Control Panel settings for colors and
       sizes and use standard keyboard behavior.
Keyboard Access

   Providing a good keyboard user interface is key to designing an
   accessible application.
     * Provide keyboard access to all features. (Logo Requirement)
     * Fully document your keyboard user interface. (Logo Requirement)
     * When possible, model your keyboard interface on a familiar
       application or control.
     * Provide underlined access keys for all menu items and controls.
     * Use logical keyboard navigation order.
     * If you normally hide some keyboard user interface elements,
       display them when the Keyboard Preference flag is set.
     * Allow the user to select text with the keyboard.
     * Avoid using the GetAsynchKeyState function.
     * If possible, provide customizable keyboard shortcuts.
Exposing the Keyboard Focus

   Many accessibility aids need to know where the user is working.
     * Expose the location of the keyboard focus within a window, either
       by moving the system caret or by using Active Accessibility.
       (Logo Requirement)
Exposing Screen Elements

   Many accessibility aids need to identify or manipulate the objects on
   the screen.
     * Allow other software to identify and manipulate all screen
       elements that the user interacts with, using Microsoft Active
       Accessibility (which is already supported by standard window
       classes and controls).
         1. Ensure that every object, window, and graphic is properly
            named. Define correct text labels for all controls, and give
            every window a user-friendly caption, even if the text is not
            visible on the screen.
         2. Support the WM_GETDLGCODE message in all custom controls that
            have their own window, to identify your control type and
            keyboard interface.
         3. Provide an alternative to any owner-drawn menus.
         4. Display text using appropriate read-write edit, read-only
            edit, status, static, or HTML controls.
         5. Make sure that dialog boxes define the correct tab order.
         6. Uniquely identify every type of window.
         7. Expose names or descriptions for all images and bitmapped
         8. Give objects labels that are unique within their context and
            are unambiguous when taken out of context.
         9. If screen contents are not exposed in other ways, support
            standard drawing techniques that can be monitored and
            recorded. Provide alternatives to operations that directly
            manipulate bitmap or screen pixels.

   Color should be used to enhance, emphasize, or reiterate information.
     * The application must respond properly when the High Contrast
       option is True. (Logo Requirement)
         1. Use only colors that the user can customize, ideally through
            Control Panel.
         2. Use colors in their proper foreground/background
         3. Omit background images drawn behind text.
     * Where possible, allow the use to customize all colors through
       Control Panel or through its own user interface.
     * When screen elements correspond with standard elements, use the
       appropriate system colors chosen in Control Panel.
     * Always use colors in their proper foreground/background
     * If possible, be prepared to draw monochrome images that contrast
       with the background color.
     * Avoid conveying important information by color alone, or make it
     * Draw graphic objects to contrast with the current background
     * Provide an option to omit complex or shaded backgrounds drawn
       behind text.

   The size of text and graphics affects usability as well as
     * The application must be compatible with system settings for sizes
       and fonts. (Logo Requirement)
     * Avoid hard coding any font sizes smaller than 10 points.
     * If you draw lines, determine the proper width rather than using a
       fixed value.
     * Allow the user to select font and font sizes for displayed
     * Allow the user to adjust the size of non-document elements such as
     * Make sure the application is compatible with changes to the system
       font size and the number of pixels per logical inch.
     * If feasible, provide a draft mode, zoom, and wrap to window
     * Stretch, shrink, pad, or crop images appropriately when their
       space changes.
     * Avoid tuning your application too tightly to a single font.

     * Do not convey important information by sound alone, or if you do,
       provide an option to convey this information by visual means.
     * Display important information visually when the ShowSounds option
       is True.
     * Provide closed captions for all audio content rendered through
     * Define many custom sound events, even if they are silent in the
       default sound scheme.
     * Trigger standard sound events when carrying out equivalent
     * If you generate sounds, provide a way to turn them off.

     * Allow the user to customize all user interface timings.
     * Allow the user to avoid having messages time out.
     * Allow slowing down or disabling any rapid screen updates or
Unexpected Side Effects

     * Moving the mouse should not trigger unexpected side effects.
     * Navigating with the keyboard should not trigger unexpected side
Mouse Input

     * Applications must be compatible with specified system settings for
       mouse input. (Logo Requirement)
     * Provide mouse shortcuts for commonly used features.
     * Make toolbars customizable.
     * Emphasize simple mouse operations that require only single clicks.
Customizable User Interface

     * If possible, allow the user to administrator to customize the
       application to meet specific needs.

   Visual design and layout can make an application more usability, and
   more accessible for people with cognitive or visual impairments:
     * Make it easy to recognize the label for each control or object.
         1. Place a text label immediately to the left of or above its
         2. Do not separate a control and its label by too great a
         3. Do not place unlabeled controls both to the left of and
            beneath a label.
         4. All text labels should end with colons, and static text
            controls that do not label other controls should not end in
     * Follow conventions for labeling icons, with text below or to the
       right of the icon, or displayed as a tooltip.
     * Try to position related objects near each other.
Verifying Accessibility

     * Test the application against this guidelines checklist.
     * Test with the High Contrast option and high contrast appearance
     * Test compatibility with extra-large appearance schemes.
     * Verify that all features can be used without a mouse.
     * Verify that all keyboard user interface methods are documented.
     * Test with the Inspect Objects tool to verify that all screen
       elements are exposed and properly labeled.
     * Test with the Microsoft Magnifier to verify that the keyboard
       focus location is properly exposed during navigation and editing.
     * Test with commercial accessibility aids.
     * Test with changes to the system font size and number of pixels per
       logical inch.
     * Include people with disabilities and accessibility software
       vendors in your beta tests.
     * Include people with disabilities in your usability tests.
     * Conduct surveys of your users who have disabilities.
     * Distribute free evaluation copies of your product to individuals
       with disabilities, disability organizations, and accessibility
       software vendors.

     * Provide documentation in accessible format, such as ASCII text or
     * Accessible documentation should contain descriptions of
       illustrations and tables.
     * Do not convey important information by color or graphics alone.
       Use color and graphics redundantly to the text.
     * Maintain high contrast between the text and its background.
     * Do not use text smaller than 10 points in size.
     * If possible, bind printed documentation to lie flat.
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   Last updated on April 28, 1999.


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--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Wednesday, 19 May 1999 14:04:40 UTC

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