Accessible IT and Websites

Mar 16, 2016

Websites should be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. T-Systems MMS shows companies how they can develop and test accessible IT at CeBIT 2016.
In today's world, people who have limited access to the Internet and are not involved in social media are at a disadvantage: They do not access to valuable information, free services or discount online offers. And it has become more difficult to find a job without the Internet. The Internet as well as apps for smartphones often remain closed to people with disabilities and older people even if they have broadband. The reason for this is that in many cases websites and software are not developed in line with the concept of accessible IT.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Roughly half a million blind people and people with sight impairments in Germany alone are familiar with these barriers. And although the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities raised awareness of the topic, companies are still struggling to implement convention recommendations including aspects such as offering accessible IT. "Some of the companies just don't know what they need to pay attention to. And other companies don't know how to implement it“, says Ursula Weber, accessible IT expert. She herself went blind at a young age and she will be explaining to visitors at this year's CeBIT how to make their websites accessible to everyone and how to make their corporate IT as accessible as possible.

Always address two senses

The most important basic element in accessible IT is the two-senses principle. The principle states that users should be able to conduct an action at least two ways or access their information via at least two channels. That means that it should be possible to use a website designed in accordance with accessible IT standards with a mouse and a keyboard or that the website needs to be equipped with a video with subtitles for the deaf. "Website programming based on standards makes it easier to make the website accessible to everyone," Ursula Weber comments. She shows us how the screen reader accesses a website's source code and then performs activities like reading the headlines out loud or translating them into braille.

Guidelines set forth in the German regulation for accessible information technology

The German federal authorities are the first required to comply with the guidelines set forth in the German regulation for accessible information technology (BITV 2.0) with their online and intranet sites. BITV 2.0 specifies the criteria for realizing barrier-free access in Germany, including accessible IT. The German Social security Code (Sozialgesetzbuch) also requires employers to offer accessible workstations. In addition to accessible IT, this includes providing software for employees with disabilities.

Only accredited testing team in Germany

T-Systems is presenting its accessible IT services at CeBIT 2016. The testing and consulting team of 15 works at the only testing center accredited for barrier-free access and ergonomics in Germany where they conduct more than 350 tests every year. The experts test access to a number of technologies including SAP, Java, VBA, .NET, C, AJAX and Typo3. They use a two-phase testing process to test applications with the help of different aids like the screen reader. "That way we can determine any actual problems that people with disabilities trying to use a website would encounter," explains André Meixner, head of the Accessibility testing center. "The next step is to assess compliance with BITV 2.0."

Analysis concepts and testing prototypes

The T-Systems experts help companies and institutions even during the development phase of a new website, from defining requirements to creating customized, accessible IT solutions. This includes developing different analysis concepts and testing prototypes. The basic accessibility check also includes testing keyboard usability and access to the website for users with sight impairments with the help of a JAWS screen reader. "And a blind expert, like myself, tests the website as well," says Ursula Weber. Once the selected dialogs comply with the criteria specified in BITV 2.0, the website is considered to be an accessible IT offer.