Developing With Accessibility in Mind at Microsoft  

Nandita Gupta

December 3rd was celebrated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, or IDPWD, to bring awareness and understanding of the issues that people with disabilities face around the world. At Microsoft, we are committed to empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and that includes empowering developers to create accessible and inclusive products.

Building with accessibility in mind helps provide all users, including users with disabilities, better access to technology. Visual Studio includes several accessibility features that create a delightful experience for all developers, including those with disabilities. Read more about those features and hear from users on How Microsoft Empowers Developers with Disabilities.

We’ll highlight two tools that we released in 2023 that enhance accessibility throughout the development life cycle. We hope this inspires you to integrate accessibility into your development processes!

Visual Studio’s Integrated Accessibility Checker

Visual Studio’s Integrated Accessibility Checker, introduced in Visual Studio 2022 version 17.5, empowers developers to build accessible applications. This 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). Get started by using the Integrated Accessibility Checker in Visual Studio for a more streamlined testing experience! Read more about developing accessible apps with Visual Studio.

Accessibility Insights adds support for WCAG 2.2 AA

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is an international standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide guidance on creating accessible web content. W3C is a global collaboration of individuals and organizations, including Microsoft. It may be challenging to remember all the standards and guidelines for accessibility testing, and this is where Accessibility Insights comes in! The latest release of the standard was October 2023, and Accessibility Insights now includes support for WCAG 2.2 AA conformance to support accessibility testing in the development life cycle. Read more on how Accessibility Insights supports WCAG 2.2 AA.

screenshot showing consistent help success criteria from WCAG AA in Accessibility insights testing

Get started on accessibility!

There is an incredible opportunity to innovate and take your products to the next level by building accessibility into your product life cycle. Every small step matters!

Kickstart your accessibility work by utilizing the above tools to catch and fix common accessibility issues. Use your keyboard to navigate and check interactive elements on the web page. Poor focus order can be disorienting to people who use screen readers or screen magnifiers and to people with reading disorders. Accessibility is not about a checklist but truly about impacting the user experience for your users. You can make an incredible difference in the lives of your users by taking these steps towards building equitable experiences.

Next Steps:

As we kickstart 2024, let’s all continue building a more equitable and accessible future with accessibility in mind! Go check out these tools outlined in this article 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

Sign up for the upcoming Ability Summit! Through this free annual digital event, you can explore new accessible technology and learn from leaders with a deep and sometimes personal understanding of disabilities in the workplace. This is your chance to find out how to embed accessibility into your organization and improve opportunities for people across the disability spectrum.

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