Visual Basic

Accessibility in Visual Basic

This chapter focuses on an aspect of programming that is too often overlooked-creating applications that are accessible to people with disabilities. There are few jobs today that don't require the use of a computer. Creating an application necessary to perform a job that can't be used by someone with a disability essentially denies that otherwise qualified person a job.

This type of exclusion can and should be eliminated, as it creates a work environment that hurts people and companies. It can even be illegal for a company or government office to require the use of such software to perform a particular job. This chapter will present you with some guidelines for ensuring that your applications are accessible to as many people as possible, and as a result more marketable.

What Is A Disability?

For the purposes of this discussion, a disability is simply a physical or mental limitation that makes performing a given task difficult, if not impossible. When used in reference to the software industry, disabilities are normally categorized as follows:

  • Vision: includes such impairments as blindness, low vision, and color blindness.
  • Hearing: includes deafness and reduced hearing.
  • Mobility: includes paralysis, weakness, and a wide variety of injuries and diseases.
  • Cognitive/Language: includes problems with thinking, memory, learning, and general perception.
  • Seizure: Includes epileptic seizures of varying degrees.

In the next section, as I go through some of the main features of accessible software, I'll highlight some of the reasons these features are necessary and who will benefit most from them.