Vision Australia have just released an excellent detailed report about their experiences delivering an accessible implementation of SharePoint 2010, and including an assessment of SharePoint 2010’s conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
As they say in their introduction:
Accessibility is becoming increasingly important for organisations in Australia. There are over 4 million people with a disability, expected to increase with our aging population. With the shift to increased use of the web for a range of services and information, organisations have a legal obligation under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to ensure web content is fully accessible. There are also commercial advantages to ensuring web content meets the defined accessibility standards and best practices.
Most recently the Australian Government’s Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy requires government agencies to achieve WCAG 2.0 base level of conformance (Single A) by December 2012, and medium level (Double A) by the end of 2014.
As they document, SharePoint Server 2007 did present some challenges to meeting full accessibility needs. Their paper reviews the significant improvements that have been made in SharePoint 2010, assesses conformance with WCAG 2.0 Double A standards, and provides guidance on how an accessible solution can be achieved using this platform:
Some of the accessibility improvements from SharePoint 2007 include:
Out of the box SharePoint 2010 is much more accessible through the inclusion of WAI-ARIA. When used with the latest versions of browsers and assistive technologies the standard SharePoint interface is in many cases fully accessible.
The paper also covers the use of SharePoint 2010 as an enterprise solution, as it can provide the interface to multiple business systems. As they say, properly configured and governed SharePoint 2010’s accessibility can then be delivered across multiple systems rather than having to address accessibility considerations for each system individually:
This overall platform approach means that users will see a common interface across multiple systems. This results in a simpler learning curve and reduces training and support requirements – which can be significant for users with a disability.
If you are responsible within your education institution for providing accessible systems for your students and staff, this is a valuable free resource that will help with your planning
Download the Vision Australia report on SharePoint 2010 and Accessibility