It is my belief that good accessibility always begins at the academic
level. One thing we blind computer users face is young developers are
just not taught how to create accessible software from day one. In the
passed when i was enrolled at Wright State University they ran you
through the basics, and out the door you go. There was no discussion how
this or that application could be made accessible or a list of
guidelines that should be met in order to insure a high level of
accessibility. As a result most Windows applications are released and
then adapted for our needs down the road through scripting,
communication with the developers, etc. In other words fixing the
problem after the fact.
I am glad to say however that this is beginning to change. As you well
know after Sun introduced the Java Swing toolkit accessibility has
become a much higher priority for Java developers, and there is lots
more documentation on access considerations than there were 10 years ago
at this time. Apple has totally redesigned there Cocoa API for Mac OS so
that accessibility is not an after thought but a core component of there
user interface. That will pay off in the end because the Cocoa books I
have read do at least cover accessibility considerations at some point.
It also helps that voice over comes with Mac OS allowing developers to
test the user interface before shipping said product. Ubuntu Linux also
has adopted this design approach to accessibility and it is slowly but
surely paying off. More and more Linux developers are becoming aware of
access issues and are beginning to meet some level of accessibility out
of the box now. It isn't perfect, but making access a core component
brings it immediately to a developers attention. This idea of access
first has been something Windows has lacked, and for that reason we have
suffered for far too long.
With games we find ourselves in the same boat. You can pick up any game
programming book, and i can tell you at least 2/3 of the book is on
graphics design and how to get the coolest eye candy. Very little is
actually discussed about input and sound. You May get one possably two
chapters on each. The rest is devoted to graphics, graphics, and more
graphics. Perhaps if we want to really be successful we need to go to
the source, the authors, teachers, and the people who influence a
programmers early education. Contact the author who is writing the next
Killer Games in C# and give him pointers about including Sapi 5 in
his/her game examples to speak scores, maybe add more 3D audio,
something to get him/her thinking about access issues. Then, a new game
programmer will read and get ideas how he/she can help.
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