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6.3. Accessibility in Tools

In addition to educating web developers, the WAI works with software and hardware developers to ensure accessibility in the tools used to create and utilize web content.

6.3.1. Content Creation

WAI works closely with web authoring tool developers to ensure that their tools make it easy for web content authors and designers to create accessible and standards-compliant code. In addition, it is necessary for these tools to be accessible themselves.

Web technology companies are keenly aware of the importance of accessibility on the Web, and they are also proud of their efforts to comply. The bigger players publish manifestos on their efforts to make their products and proprietary technology available to as wide an audience as possible.


Microsoft has been throwing its muscle at raising the standards of accessibility in the software industry since 1988 and is at the forefront of the accessibility initiative on the Web. Their site, Microsoft Accessibility: Technology for Everyone, contains background information, news, tools, product information, and many other resources related to their efforts.


This overview of Macromedia's accessibility program provides information on how each of their products supports W3C accessibility guidelines. Macromedia has developed the Flash Accessibility Kit, which includes code and guidelines for improving the accessibility of Flash content, and the Dreamweaver Accessibility Extension, which allows authors to check the accessibility of the pages they create.


This page summarizes Adobe's efforts to make the PDF format more accessible to users with disabilities. It provides highlights of accessibility features built into Acrobat 5.0, tools to help authors optimize PDF files for accessibility, and links to online conversion tools that turn PDF files into HTML or ASCII documents (so they can be read by assistive technologies).

6.3.2. Browsing Devices

The WAI also works to coordinate the efforts of developers of assistive technologies. Users with disabilities use a whole range of approaches for browsing. There is a useful list of alternative devices and assistive technologies on the WAI site at http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/Browsing. It contains lists of browsers specifically designed for people with disabilities, screen readers that can read content from standard browsers, existing browsers with accessibility features, voice browsers that can interpret web content from a direct telephone connection, and a variety of other access methods. In addition to links and descriptions of each tool, some also feature demonstrations so you can get a feel for what it is like to browse pages with alternative methods.

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