The Need for Accessibility Standards for Open Source Software
Open source software continues to rise to great prominence. With the freedom to study, modify, and run the source code for any purpose, the so-called open source movement has a huge user base supporting the use of open source license for any software. Though the development phase of such open source software includes the accessibility option provided by various specified programs, most of the applications remain deprived of even basic accessibility options.
There are many input and output components available to potential users, which helps in improving the availability of open source software. Such peripherals can be used to interact with various programs using standard convention. However, hardware interactions require having a different approach for a better user experience. For example, an application with a screen reader requires a completely unique approach.
Helen Petrie, professor of human computer interaction at the University of York, discusses the peripherals for disabled in her book “Remote usability evaluations with disabled people”. However, she believes that most developers are either inexperienced or lack a theoretical framework to implement such technology. By uncovering all the related technologies, designers can be more comprehensive and receptive in their approach.
Anne Gibson, in her book “Reframing accessibility for the web” tries to bring some innovative ideas to cater accessibility into the design and development process. There are various procedures that can be used by testers and developers to improvise accessibility testing. The one suggested by Gibson is the use of text matrix belonging to the various input and output peripherals.
Adding to the ideas suggested by various researchers, I believe that the accessibility issues need to be more broadly circumscribed. This can be done by modifying the instructions and standards for a tester’s design review. By considering usability testing as a form of ordinary testing approach, you can consistently analyze for accessibility issues. However, this would possibly confine the pace of overall development.
One can also employ various automated accessibility inspecting tools to test assistive software. Though it can be complicated at times; however, this method has the potential to reduce pressure on a tester by consuming less time in the testing phase.
There are methods that limit the significance of being familiar and understanding the accessibility concerns. In the book “The evaluation of accessibility, usability and user experience,” Nigel Bevan talks about the reduced outcome of the testing process. According to him, such accessibility testing tools are ideal for dealing with basic problems; however, the scope of testing usability issues is very limited.
The basic principle underlying the free software movement is the equal collaboration and involvement by each computer user. By improving the accessibility standards for developing open source software would help in advancing in this field. Moreover, it would legalize the open source developers in the software development industry.
Accessibility options for the users should be provided and continued in all phases of software design and production. This would help in amplifying the potential audience of the software.