Developing with Accessibility in Mind at Microsoft

Nandita Gupta

On May 16th, we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an annual event dedicated to increasing awareness about accessibility issues for people with disabilities, technology experts, customers, educators, and students. At Microsoft, our unwavering commitment is to empower every individual and organization on the planet to achieve more and this includes empowering developers to create products that are accessible and inclusive.

Developers can build and test with accessibility at the forefront using Microsoft’s open-source tool, Accessibility Insights for Web! In a recent update, we introduced testing support and guidance for WCAG 2.2 within the Assessment feature. Additionally, our Quick Assess feature goes beyond automated checks, allowing you to identify even more issues in under 30 minutes using assisted tests.

Discover three simple methods to seamlessly incorporate accessibility testing into your development life cycle. Let this inspire you to infuse accessible practices in your development process as we celebrate GAAD 2024!

Use FastPass to catch common, high-impact accessibility issues in less than 5 minutes!

Accessibility Insights for Web empowers developers to build accessible applications in various ways! Our automated checks, fueled by axe-core, receive continuous updates to enhance the accessibility testing experience during UI code writing, to quickly identify and address high-impact accessibility issues. The image below demonstrates automated check failures detected in under 2 minutes using FastPass on a webpage! Fixing these accessibility issues significantly contributes to delightful user experiences for all your customers, including people with disabilities.

Failed rules in the Accessibility Insights for Web page

Use Visual Studio’s Integrated Accessibility Checker

Visual Studio’s Integrated Accessibility Checker, introduced in Visual Studio 2022 version 17.5, empowers developers to find and fix accessibility issues directly in the IDE. This exciting tool supports accessibility scanning by detecting several common accessibility issues in desktop applications and provides feedback on those errors directly in Visual Studio. The scan is powered by the Axe-Windows engine (the same engine that powers Accessibility Insights for Windows). Go check out the Integrated Accessibility Checker in Visual Studio and read more about developing accessible apps with Visual Studio.

Go beyond automation: Try Quick Assess!

Automated tools can flag many accessibility issues, like missing or invalid properties. However, to find all accessibility issues, some manual inspection is needed. Quick Assess, part of Accessibility Insights for web, goes beyond automation! It offers 10 tests that surface deeper accessibility issues and help you go beyond automation. Each test includes ‘Why It Matters’ information and links helpful resources and examples for fixing the issues. Check out the image below, which illustrates one of the tests for Heading Levels with instances displayed for testing with ease!

Screenshot showing the Heading Level test in Quick Assess

Get started on building accessible products today!

Unlock an incredible opportunity to innovate and elevate your products by building accessibility into your product life cycle. Every small step matters!

You don’t need to be an accessibility expert to incorporate these practices into your development processes —Kickstart your accessibility journey by utilizing the tools mentioned above to identify and fix common accessibility issues! Use the Tab Stops keyboard test in FastPass for navigation and meticulously inspect interactive elements on web pages. Poor focus order can disorient users who rely on screen readers or magnifiers, as well as those with reading disorders.

Remember, accessibility isn’t just about ticking off items on a checklist —it profoundly impacts the holistic user experiences. By embracing these steps, you have the power to create truly equitable digital interactions for all users.

A developer using a prosthetic arm and a wheelchair to write code on his laptop.

Next steps

As we embark on GAAD 2024, let’s all continue building a more equitable and accessible future with accessibility in mind! To get started, explore these tools by downloading Visual Studio and Accessibility Insights for Web.

Thank you for your commitment to our community! How do you incorporate accessibility into your development process? Share your strategies with us in the Developer Community Portal.

Building with accessibility at the forefront ensures that all users, including those with disabilities, gain enhanced access to technology. For deeper insights and firsthand experiences, explore How Microsoft Empowers Developers with Disabilities.

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