Many web designers express a desire to provide access to the blind and visually impaired, but don’t really know where to begin. Although the tools are available and there are a number of web sites on the internet where information on the specifics of accessible design can be found, there seems to be something lacking. That something could well be the support of mainstream corporations in providing a means to help web designers create accessible web sites. Happily, one corporation has decided to forge a new path in the world of web design by incorporating accessibility into its new product. SoftQuad International , makers of the popular HOTmetal PRO web authoring program, took a decisive step last month by extending a welcoming hand to the disabled community with an exciting announcement.
At the W3C conference in Santa Clara, California, SoftQuad, the developers of HOTmetal PRO, announced their intention to release an AdaptAbility Toolkit with the next release of their Internet Publisher. HOTmetal Pro already offers web designers the tools necessary to create pages which can be displayed on all of the mainstream browsers but, with the addition of the AdaptAbility Toolkit features, HOTmetal will not only provide a means to create accessible web pages through the use of an “auto prompting mechanism” which will alert web designers to features which could be added to make a page more accessible, but it will also allow the disabled access to the program through the various toolkit features:
- The Visual Dynamic Keyboard option (VDK) will allow those who cannot use a conventional mouse or keyboard to access the program and create web pages.
- The Screen Enlarger function will enlarge the screen in a logical fashion, thus providing access to the program by the visually impaired. Since the Screen Enlarger function will be able to access the fonts in windows, the image displayed on the screen will be crisper and clearer than current screen enlarger software currently offers.
- An integrated screen reader will allow the blind access to the program as well. Softquad is developing the program so that the screen reader will be able to be configured to the preferences of the individual.
- Customized user profiles will enable multiple users to use one program.
Author DetailsCathy Murtha is interested in Web Access for the disabled, and has a set of Web pages on these issues.
Web Pages: http://www2.cdepot.net/~mist/