What is accessibility?
With more and more countries and governments requiring the accessibility of Information & Communication Technology (ICT), the awareness of this topic is extremely heightened right now. Unlike usability, accessibility is about designing our product, with all of its data and functions, in such a manner so it can be used by anyone. This means that HP Software can accommodate people with various disabilities who can still perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the application.
To support accessibility in software, we need to address four broad categories of disability:
- Vision - Blindness, low vision, color vision issues.
- Movement - Difficulty using a mouse, problems with timed responses, limited fine motor control.
- Cognitive, reading, and learning – Learning disabilities, distractibility, memory problems, and concentration problems.
- Hearing– Deafness or hard of hearing,
An application is “accessible” to the degree that it can be used by people with disabilities. Each category requires certain types of adaptations in the design of the application. Often these adaptations are to ensure compatibility with assistive technology that will be used by people with disabilities.
Why is accessibility important?
Accessibility is the law in many countries and has increasingly become a customer requirement. There are numerous legal mandates worldwide for accessibility, and, more to come in the near future.
Laws aside, accessibility represents an important step toward independence for individuals with disabilities and is the right thing for a responsible corporation like HP to do.
In addition, many of the improvements targeted for individuals with disabilities offer benefits for all users. Applications that follow accessibility guidelines are often easier to navigate, better organized, and consistent across the application -- and what user, regardless of their level of ability, wouldn’t want that?
Our Goal for accessibility
In the HP Service Manager development community, our accessibility goal is clear: to design, produce and market a product that can be effectively used by people, with or without disabilities.
Standards to follow
Accessibility standards help designers and developers of software and web applications identify and address accessibility issues. Currently, the two standards of primary focus are Section 508 and WCAG 2.0.
Around the world, country-specific standards are increasingly common. Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act is based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 Priority One checkpoints. These same checkpoints serve as the basis for standards in Australia, Canada, and many other countries. Other country-specific standards, developed more recently in places like Germany and Japan, utilize WCAG 2.0 as their basis. Pending standards, under development in various countries, are expected to utilize WCAG 2.0. This is because WCAG 2.0 applies broadly to more advanced technologies; is easier to use and understand; and is more precisely testable with automated testing and human evaluation.
What we are driving to achieve
Accessibility support is already the standard process in SM feature development, and we are doing many things to improve our overall accessibility:
- Full product accessibility review against the standards and guidelines -- For example, full and intuitive keyboard navigation, efficient screen reader (JAWS) support, better color contrast, consistent behaviors etc.
- End to end accessibility testing -- Understand how people with disabilities can complete their work. It is not sufficient to address functionalities here and there, but to understand how an individual can complete their use case scenario smoothly
- Listening to the Voice of the Customer -- We are working closely with the accessibility office established in many large corporations to get a better understanding of the real requirement expressed by end users.
The HP Service Manager team has already addressed many customer-reported accessibility issues in the web tier. Two examples are:
- Navigation Menu -- It could be recognized by screen reader as a tree and user can navigate through the whole system with the keyboard instead of with the mouse to finish his work
- Record List -- It could be recognized by screen reader as a table, hence comprehensive screen reader table support is available now
For more information
- Read the HP Service Manager Accessibility Guide available from HP Software Support
- Learn about Hewlett-Packard’s compliance with Section 508 requirements and the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) from the HP Accessibility & Aging Portal
This content was contributed by Bing Zhang (Byron), an HP Service Manager R&D Client Team engineer
A 25+ year veteran of HP, Yvonne is currently a Senior Product Manager of HP ITSM software including HP Service Anywhere and HP Service Manager. Over the years, Yvonne has had factory and field roles in several different HP businesses, including HP Software, HP Enterprise Services, HP Support, and HP Imaging and Printing Group. Yvonne has been masters certified in ITIL for over 10 years and was co-author of the original HP IT Service Management (ITSM) Reference Model and Primers.