Oracle UPK and Accessibility
By Marc Santosusso on Jan 09, 2013
Oracle User Productivity Kit offers many features that allow authors to create content that is usable and useful to Assistive Technology (AT) users. While the Oracle User Productivity Kit HTML Web Site 11 VPAT (http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/accessibility/templates/t2-2584.html) provides a good representation of how UPK addresses Accessibility requirements for end users, it's only part of the story. In this post I will describe a few practical examples of how specific UPK features or outputs have been used to effectively meet the needs of AT users. This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list of capabilities, nor is it meant to describe the limits of UPK, but rather the starting point to a broader discussion about UPK and Accessibility.
First, it is important to carefully plan your content development effort, including identifying your target audience and which outputs you plan to deploy. UPK offers many choices for colors, fonts, and other content characteristics which may affect the experience of the content consumers. Knowing your audience and the capabilities of UPK allows you to make good decisions when authoring and delivering your content to a broad audience with a wide range of requirements. For instance, it is important to establish UPK content standards early in your project. For instance, one decision that you should make before you begin the bulk of your content development efforts is the resolution of the content you are recording as this will potentially affect the clarity of the topic screenshots when viewed by users. As you consider which outputs you will be deploying, remember that the document outputs can be highly customized (click "View outline") to meet the needs of your users.
For users with color blindness or low-vision, many screen magnification and zoom tools work well with UPK Player, HTML Web Site and document outputs. For example, the Windows Magnifier can really make a difference when viewing simulations in the UPK Player. The HTML Web Site and document outputs are good choices for delivering content to user who utilize high contrast color themes. In cases where screen magnification or high contrast is not enough, the HTML Web Site output is also an excellent source of content for screen reader applications. In cases where no AT is being used, sound can be delivered in the UPK Player using the Sound Editor (click "View outline") for topics and web pages to provide a more meaningful experience to users who rely more on listening to content.
Dexterity or Motor Impairment
Our customers have had good success with utilizing voice commands to interact with the UPK Player, allowing the content to be delivered to users who do not rely on mice and keyboards as their primary method of interacting with computers. Users who have limited use of a mouse and a strong preference for the keyboard will find that direct links to UPK topics can be viewed and, if authored with a keyboard user in mind, provide relevant and useful simulation content. The template text which is automatically generated by UPK during recording can be customized (click "View outline") to reach a broader audience--changing terms like "click" to "select" is one common example of a customization we see made by our customers. This simple change makes a significant difference to a user who does not use a mouse to interact with software.
The nature of UPK provides a very strong visual component, including screenshots and text which can provide a meaningful experience to users with hearing impairments. In the case where you are delivering content which includes sound, be sure to convey all of the relevant information in your bubble text and web pages. This allows the bubble text to act as the "closed captioning" for topic simulations.
I highly recommend reviewing the Getting Started with UPK content and the UPK Online Documentation Library, which I've referenced throughout this post. Both are great resources when considering your accessibility requirements. There's a lot more to talk about, but hopefully this illustrates how UPK can provide a lot of viable options for AT users. We will continue to improve UPK in ways that ensure authors can create accessible content with special consideration around both WCAG 2.0 and Section 508. Please use the comments to tell us how you have used UPK to create accessible content or what challenges you currently face in creating accessible content.