A new AODA requirement for Ontario websites will come into force on January 1st, 2021. Under the Information and Communications Standards, organizations must make their websites and web-based apps accessible. Organizations must do so by making their websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities. Moreover, accessible websites must be compatible with hardware and software that make computers and other smart devices accessible. Here we outline some software programs that support web accessibility.
Software Programs that Support Web Accessibility
Accessible software programs allow people to input and perceive information in different ways. Many programs are built for different types of computers, such as Windows or Mac. While some programs are built into operating systems or browsers, others are third-party software that users purchase from companies specializing in accessible hardware and software. Programs sometimes offer different levels of accessibility. For instance, some programs magnify files or webpages, or read them aloud, upon request. In contrast, other programs automatically magnify or read aloud every interaction with every program. Therefore, different people will find certain programs more useful than others, depending on what their needs are.
Software Programs for Inputting Information
On-screen keyboards allow users to type by selecting letters, numbers, or symbols with their pointing devices. Speech recognition software allows users to control the computer or phone with their voices. Predictive software helps users input words by displaying word options they can choose from after they have typed the first few letters.
Software Programs for Displaying Information
People may use screen magnification software to enlarge text and images on their screens. They may also improve colour contrast. Alternatively, people may use screen reader software that reads aloud all text on the computer screen from the moment it turns on.
People may also use text-to-speech programs that magnify text or read it aloud within files or webpages. Some of these programs may also allow people to:
- See each word highlighted as it is read
- Look up words in a dictionary or thesaurus
- Create bookmarks and notes
- Convert files into accessible formats, such as:
Software programs and hardware devices give people access to technology in diverse ways. To make websites accessible, web owners and developers must design their sites and apps to be compatible with these programs and devices.