SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Accessibility Insights

by Joseph K. Clark

Accessibility Insights is an open-source project created by Microsoft aimed at helping developers build more accessible software.  It was developed internally at Microsoft and then released as an open-source solution in 2019. 

Accessibility Insights

“We were motivated by Microsoft’s mission to ‘empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.’ We realized that we need to help support all developers in building more accessible products to empower every person. The power of open-source software is increasing transparency into our methodologies and encouraging trust in our tools. It also allows us to accept contributions and to allow developers to experiment with our tools. These products belong to the community now, and I am excited to see how we will develop them together over the coming years,” Mark Reay, principal group software engineering manager for Microsoft, wrote in a post

RELATED CONTENT: Global Accessibility Awareness Day highlights the need for developer education

The project includes FastPass, a five-minute process that identifies common accessibility issues and provides recommendations on how to fix them.

The first step of FastPass is an automated scan. The second step is the Tab Stops test, which provides developers with a visualization of how someone would use a keyboard to navigate through the user interface

Microsoft has put effort into ensuring that Accessibility Insights doesn’t give false positives, and it utilizes scanning libraries that share that commitment, such as ax-core from Deque Systems. 

Accessibility Insights is available in a few different forms. Accessibility Insights for Web can be added as a browser extension for Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Accessibility Insights for Windows is a desktop application that includes ax windows, which is a scanning library. Microsoft also recently added Accessibility Insights for Android developers.

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