Accessibility In SharePoint


Accessibility is becoming a more and more important thing in the website world. If you think about the average age of people increasing, the baby boomer generation’s current age, and the overall push towards equality for everyone we know that many new websites and quite a few existing ones are being changed to become more accessible and usable by those with various impairments or disabilities.

A great review of web accessibility for older users can be found here: http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-age-literature/

Summary: Be as accessible as you can be, and at the very least be AWARE of accessibility. There is always a limit to how accessible determined by the funding, training, and functionality you are providing your web users, but try to identify that limit and document it.

Microsoft released their Delivering Accessible Solutions using MOSS 2007 white paper a short time ago. This paper can be found here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=121797&clcid=0x409

This white paper covers most of the material you need to know to deliver an accessible SharePoint website.

A wonderful accessibility best practices white paper was also released by Imtech a short while ago and can be found here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=121877&clcid=0x409

This paper can give a fair amount of insight into some best practices to use when developing accessible web sites.

Don’t forget to look at the Accessibility Kit for SharePoint created by hisoftware which is also mentioned in both of the white papers.

If you read over both of these and keep accessibility standards in mind you will see how easy it can be to match the demand for accessible SharePoint websites. In fact I would recommend creating an accessibility matrix (use the W3C one as a starting point: http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html) for what your company, product, or level of ability sits at so that everyone can see exactly what kind of accessibility level you support.

Don’t forget that W3C offers lots of resources and assistance as well.

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Richard

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