Introduction to Accessibility Overview for OS X
Accessibility is the successful access to information and information technologies by people with disabilities. Apple’s commitment to accessibility is rooted in the Macintosh’s legendary ease-of-use and is enhanced by the Universal Access features in OS X. Beginning in OS X version 10.2, Apple introduced the accessibility architecture, which defines how an assistive technology, such as a screen reader or head-tracking mouse, communicates with applications running in OS X.
This document describes why you should make your application accessible, a process Apple calls access enabling. It then provides an overview of the design considerations you should make when developing an accessible application. Finally, it describes OS X accessibility architecture that supports both the access enabling of applications and the development of assistive technologies.
Who Should Read This Document?
To reach the broadest range of users, all applications should be accessible. Therefore, all application developers should read this document to learn how accessibility affects their applications and how OS X supports accessibility. This document is a prerequisite to the Cocoa framework–specific documents listed in “See Also” that describe how to access-enable these types of applications.
If you’re developing an assistive application, you should read this document for an introduction to the OS X accessibility architecture. In particular, you’ll learn about some of the information you can expect to receive from an accessible application.
Organization of This Document
This document contains the following chapters:
“Why Make Your Application Accessible?” will help you to make a business justification for spending the development time to make your applications accessible.
“Developing an Accessible OS X Application” describes design considerations to keep in mind during the design process and outlines how to access-enable an application.
“The OS X Accessibility Protocol” provides an overview of the OS X accessibility architecture.
“Testing for Accessibility on OS X” describes how to use tools Apple provides to test the accessibility of your application.
“Accessibility Keyboard Shortcuts” lists the keyboard shortcuts reserved by OS X for accessibility purposes.
“Document Revision History” lists the changes to this document.
In addition to Accessibility Overview, Apple developer documentation includes several documents that cover accessibility. Documents that describe specific areas of accessibility are listed below.
Getting Started with Accessibility provides a brief introduction to accessibility and describes learning paths you might choose to follow.
Accessibility Programming Guidelines for Mac describes how to access-enable a Cocoa application.
Accessibility Roles and Attributes Reference lists the attributes associated with each role defined in the OS X accessibility protocol.
NSAccessibility describes the NSAccessibility protocol and its methods and constants.
In addition to these documents, Apple maintains a website devoted to accessibility in OS X, with links to more information about compatible assistive technologies: