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10/31/2013

Integrating Accessibility in Software Development


The 5th International Conference on Software Development and Technologies for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion – DSAI 2013, which will take place November 13-15, 2013, in Vigo, Spain, will feature a special track entitled, “Integrating Accessibility in Software Development”.

software development

Software engineering can help set best practices towards achieving web accessibility.

The Web has evolved to become one of the primary tools that allow citizens to communicate with each other and act as members of the Information Society that all of us are part of. Through the Internet, we can access multiple services, including healthcare, education, government, and consumer utility services. Considering that so many of our transactions and businesses are reliant on easy access to the internet, it is surprising that concerted efforts have not been undertaken to make the web accessible to users of all abilities.

Accessibility barriers are not only acute for people living with a range of disabilities, but also for senior citizens as well as many other user groups at risk of exclusion.

The equitable use of the Web is a right that everyone has. In many countries, web accessibility is a legal requirement. Numerous regulations and standards (WCAG 2.0, ISO/IEC 40500:2012, ISO 9241-171:2008: part 171, etc.) help set the benchmarks for accessibility achievements in the development of websites and web applications. Nevertheless, accessibility is quite difficult to accomplish, let alone maintain at a consistent level throughout the life cycle of a web application. This difficulty is due to diverse factors including, but not limited to, the lack of proper development methods, authoring tools, and accessibility training for web development professionals, among others.

How are accessible products going to be developed if there are not enough visible methods to guide and direct all the phases of the development process, including training and certification processes? Software engineering can end these shortcomings by laying the ground for best practices in dissemination of methods and resources that, when applied by professionals, lead to the consistent and reliable development of accessible websites and web applications. In an attempt to offer a working space and engineer a constructive debate on this issue, I have taken charge to organize a special track within the larger conference session at DSAI 2013.

The special session, titled, Integrating Accessibility in Software Development,” aims to gather the academic community: engineering professionals, public and private entities, and professionals interested in attending the session and presenting their research work, in order to better understand accessibility from different perspectives. As for organizations, the session aims to foster discussions in the integration of accessibility and quality policies in the development process following a methodological approach. It will also focus on the importance of User-Centered Design (UCD) and Inclusive Design approaches that place the user as the central figure and encourages them to participate in the software development process.

The session will also address the issue of integration of Web accessibility into the testing processes and the development lifecycle of accessible web applications. Given the importance of accessibility evaluation, a systematic approach to the development of accessibility evaluation tools and leveraging the different artefacts and activities of a standardized development process mode will be presented. I have come across several interesting projects that deal with similar issues, such as the European Mandate M 376, which will result in a European standard (EN 301 549) defining functional accessibility requirements for information and communication technology products and services.

For further information on the special session, please visit the event website at http://dsai2013.utad.pt/.  

About the Author

Lourdes MorenoLourdes Moreno has a Ph.D. in Computer Science (focusing on the design and development of accessible web applications) from the University Carlos III de Madrid and a degree in Mathematics – Computation Sciences from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. She has worked with several IT companies in their R&D departments, focusing on infometrics (information measurement) in web channels. Since 2002, Lourdes has been at the Department of Computer Science at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, currently as an Associate Professor. Her research interests include integrating accessibility in software development, accessible ICTs (Web, mobile, multimedia, user interfaces), as well as education for all. For more information, please visit her webpage at http://labda.inf.uc3m.es/lmoreno. 

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Related Resource

Blog: It Takes a Village: Spirit of Accessibility Implementation is in Collaboration | Read Robert Pearson's Article.

Publication: Putting e-Accessibility at the Core of Information Systems: G3ict Business Case White Paper Series | Download PDF.

Event: DSAI 2013: 5th International Conference on Software Development and Technologies for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion | November 13-15, 2013 at Vigo, Spain | View Event Details.

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