Sara Ford - Accessibility and Visual Studio

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Sara Ford, software design engineer and tester on the Visual Studio team, introduces herself to Channel9 (the rest of her interview will run over the next week here on Channel9).

She has an important job at Microsoft: she makes sure that everyone is able to use Visual Studio (she's an accessibility expert). Imagine you were blind and wanted to program in Visual Studio. Thanks to Sara's, and other people's efforts here, you'd be able to.

How can Microsoft make its products more accessible? Sara's listening for your ideas.

One other way Sara is looking out for developers? She's also a tester on the Visual Studio 2005 team. She writes code to test Visual Studio. That means she finds bugs. Before they get into the product where they'll ruin your day. She'll talk more about what that means.

Oh, and she has a blog where she writes even more about these topics.



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    The Discussion

    • User profile image
      Frankie Fresh
      You know, I never gave much thought to accesibility until I made a bid for a government contract.  I imagine that most developers don't give this much thought.
    • User profile image
      Interesting to hear about the accessibility efforts, but this video highlights one of the major problems I have with a lot of the videos here: no screen shots.

      The interviewer asks Sara what VS sounds like with a screen reader, and most of the rest interview ends up being Sara trying to remember what the screen reader would say--when a simple demo would've been more effective.

      I understand there's probably issues of confidentiality, but surely something a little more complex than talking heads should be possible?
    • User profile image
      I'd rather have a sharp fullscreen screenshot as link on the forum here instead of zooming the video into screen. You can see the latter in .NET Show and the video zooming isn't enjoyable. In theory you could incorporate sharp desktop recording into the talks using some desktop capturing program but editing those together would be waste of time and so on.
    • User profile image
      In future interviews we'll definitely spend some time on the screen. Last Friday I got demos on tape of the Tablet PC and the SmartPhone. I'll only post them here if they look OK, though.
    • User profile image

      I think Channel9 has a nice community cable vibe going for it:  it exposes people, even people inside the big house, to some pretty neat technology, people, and happenings.  Sara's video was fine for a brief intro to the topic.  Personally, I'd like to see it covered in more depth, but that's probably a task more suited to the MSDN TV guys (if they weren't so dang busy showing us Longhorn features Smiley.

      More on topic, there are many people out there who would benefit from better accessibility support in the software they use.  And now, if you want to support Tablet PC users who use voice command to control apps, you have yet another reason to push programming for accessibility. Smiley  Just check out the Tablet PC platform sdk.

    • User profile image

      In retrospect, maybe having placed a microphone next to one of the speakers (provided there wasn't any feedback) would have allowed people to hear a screen reader navigating the Start - Run Dialog.  I wouldn't make for a very good screen reader. =)

      If you're running Windows XP and you're curious what a basic screen reader sounds like, Windows XP comes with a basic screen reader called Narrator.  Just go to Accessories - Accessibility - Narrator.

      I mentioned two other screen readers, JAWS and Window-Eyes.  Both have demo versions available on their websites.


      Window Eyes:


    • User profile image
      Frankie Fresh
      doesn't the windowskey-U shortcut bring that stuff up? 
    • User profile image
      Frankie Fresh wrote:
      doesn't the windowskey-U shortcut bring that stuff up? 

      Roger that, homey! Wink
    • User profile image
      Hey Sara, I wasn't commenting on your screen reader abilities, they're fine with me Smiley
      But you're right, an extra mike would indeed have done the job!
    • User profile image
      No worriest, mvuijlst.  It's all good.  =)

      Yep, WindowsKey+U does the trick too.  For every new keyboard shortcut i learn, i forget an older one.  =)
    • User profile image

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