Application software

This section describes the relevant accessibility standards for application software and gives sample text that you can cut and paste into an RFT. This text is designed to be used in conjunction with the sample texts describing general accessibility targets, an appropriate development process, how tenders will be evaluated, etc. These sample texts are given on the Writing an RFT page.

This covers application software running under any operating system or runtime environment. For an introduction to the accessibility issues that arise with application software, read the section About Application Software Accessibility in the NDA IT accessibility guidelines.

Which targets should you prescribe?

Application software should meet the NDA IT Accessibility Guidelines for Application Software.

Suggested text for an RFT

Accessibility targets

<the software> should be designed in accordance with the NDA IT Accessibility Guidelines for Application Software. It should meet at least all the priority 1 guidelines and all appropriate and achievable priority 2 guidelines. Where a supplier considers any guidelines to be inappropriate or unachievable for some component of the software, this must be stated explicitly in the tender, together with an explanatory rationale.

Prior to tendering, suppliers should be satisfied that they can meet these guidelines, which are listed and clearly explained on the NDAIT Accessibility Guidelines website (http://www.Accessit.nda.Ie/it-accessibility-guidelines/application-software). The deliverables will be assessed against the checklist at http://www.Accessit.nda.Ie/it-accessibility-guidelines/application-software/checklist-application-software-accessibility.

About the NDA guidelines for Application Software

The NDA application software guidelines are presented as a number of high-level, user-oriented functional goals, not as precise technical specifications. The main guidelines are as follows:

  • Ensure that users have access to the operating system
    accessibility tools, without affecting application functionality;
  • Ensure compatibility with assistive technologies
  • Adhere to all user-selected system settings for input and
    output;
  • Adhere to the standard keyboard access methods;
  • Do not require use of a pointing device;
  • Ensure that all information can be perceived by users with
    restricted or no vision;
  • Ensure that all information can be perceived by users with
    restricted or no hearing;
  • Do not cause the screen to flash at a frequency of above 2
    Hertz;
  • Use the simplest language possible for instructions, prompts
    and outputs and, where possible, supplement it with pictorial information or
    spoken language;
  • Ensure a logical tab order for controls, input fields and
    other objects;
  • Provide descriptions and instructions for all accessibility
    features;
  • Provide accessible documentation, training and support
    materials.

For each of these guidelines, more specific design guidance is provided, such as “Use system calls to determine required display characteristics for non-standard elements”. However, this is intended as guidance, not mandatory properties which must be adhered to. The NDA resource also gives the rationale and suggested testing methods for each guideline.

The NDA application software guidelines are divided into 2 priority levels. Priority 1 covers the basic requirements to allow people to operate the software. Meeting all the priority 1 guidelines will ensure that the software can be used by most people with impaired mobility, vision, hearing, cognition and language understanding and will interface to standard assistive technologies, such as keyboard emulators and screen magnification software. Priority 2 introduces guidelines concerning understandability and allowing users to install and set up the software. Meeting all the priority 2 guidelines in addition to priority 1 will make it easier to use and will include more people with cognitive impairments or multiple disabilities.

If procuring application software you should specify the NDA application software guidelines as a reference and expect that at least all the priority 1 guidelines should be met and preferably priority 2 as well.

For more information, see the NDA IT Accessibility Guidelines for Application Software.