IBM has previewed technology intended to assess and grade websites for their accessibility to people who are visually impaired and blind.
A Java-based developer tool called aDesigner is intended to ensure the usefulness of web pages for people who are visually impaired, IBM said.
Developed at IBM’s Tokyo research lab, the tool detects accessibility and usability problems on web pages and provides guidance on how to correct them.
The need for easily viewable websites is one that will grow, with seven out of 10 Americans expected to work past the once-typical retirement age of 65, IBM said.
IBM’s aDesigner “presents a console to the developer and it basically provides it as a simulator” ,said Jim Chao, emerging technology strategist at IBM.
“It simulates a low-vision mode and it also simulates a blind mode so it will take a look at your HTML and in this console list all the problems with your web page.”
For people who are visually impaired, elements are checked such as font sizes, contrast between foreground and background, and inappropriate colour combinations.
For people who are blind, aDesigner checks the HTML tags that link to text-to-speech systems. The tool checks excessive reaching time, which is the amount of time needed to reach each element of a page, as well as redundant text, insufficient intra-page linking, and accessibility guidelines.
It may be a couple of years before the technology is introduced in an IBM product, Chao said.
The tool can be downloaded at www.alphaworks.ibm.com.
Paul Krill writes for Infoworld