Several of my blind colleagues have tried Microsoft’s new AntiSpyware beta and have reported disappointing results. They tell me that it is extremely difficult to use with a modern screen reading application such as JAWS or Window-Eyes. We are disappointed that, despite a well known accessibility policy, Microsoft has apparently again chosen to consider accessibility as an afterthought rather than building it in to the product during its initial development. Strong evidence points to the inclusion of accessibility as an integral part of product development resulting in much lower costs than its later inclusion as an enhancement at a later date.
Please read Microsoft’s Commitment to Accessibility then send e-mail to Microsoft’s accessibility group and provide online feedback registering your concerns about the need for accessibility to AntiSpyware and all other Microsoft products and services.
Despite a positive accessibility policy, Microsoft’s ongoing lack of accessibility in some areas of its product line has actually touched my difficult workplace accessibility situation. The “high interactivity” configuration of the Siebel customer relationship management software uses an old Microsoft implementation of Java which is completely inaccessible to screen readers. We must continue to insist that Microsoft follow both the letter and the spirit of its commitment to accessibility. We must also find a way to let mainstream technology companies know about the consequences of the accessibility or the inaccessibility of their products and services. As we know, blind people can and do lose their jobs on a regular basis due to the lack of accessibility of critical technology.