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How to Build Accessible Windows Forms Applications with .NET : Page 4

Open your favorite .NET application, then close your eyes and try using the program. Tough, isn't it? But that's what using your applications may be like for disabled computer users. As a responsible developer, you can solve this problem by using these techniques to add Active Accessibility features to your application.




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Testing Active Accessibility
The easiest way to test if your application supports accessibility aids correctly is to try to use them with your application. To start up the Active Accessibility Utility Manager press the Windows key on your keyboard and the letter U (ÿ+ U). In the Utility Manager Application Window you can easily start and stop the different aids that are available with each default installation of Microsoft Windows XP. The most important aid to test with is Microsoft Narrator. You can also start it without the Utility Manger by typing "Narrator" at the command prompt or in the Run… window. You can download additional tools from the Microsoft Web site that can help you when testing accessibility features. These include the following:

  • Accessibility Event Watcher (AccEvent)
  • Inspect Object (Inspect)
  • Accessible Explorer (AccExplorer)
At a minimum, test the user interface of each feature at its first and second levels. For example, in a dialog box containing tabs, test all buttons and tabs, and all subcontrols on the tabs, and any dialog boxes that appear when users click a button on the tab pages. Active Accessibility is on the rise. Many companies are using it or are at least planning to support accessibility in the near future. Microsoft is promoting the benefits of Active Accessibility to the software industry, the accessibility community and others. It's good to see the increasing awareness about enabling people with disabilities to use computers. For many, the computer has become the primary source of information and work, enabling people to perform tasks that were formerly impossible. Ultimately, Microsoft Active Accessibility increases options for people who depend on accessibility aids to use computers.

Peter Koen, a Microsoft MVP, is an independent consultant, author, and programmer. He also gives lectures at a private university in Austria on Knowledge Management. He is a certified MCP, MCAD, MCSD.NET, MCDBA, and MCT, as well as the Allied Telesyn Certifications for CAI, CASE, and IAT. Peter is the founder of the the SQL Server User group in Austria.
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