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:

See Also

In addition to Accessibility Overview, Apple developer documentation includes several documents that cover accessibility. Documents that describe specific areas of accessibility are listed below.

In addition to these documents, Apple maintains a website devoted to accessibility in OS X, with links to more information about compatible assistive technologies: