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Multiple Format Tool Kit

The following links to accessible tools are for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any particular tool or technology.

The list should also be considered a starting point since technologies are constantly being updated and introduced.

1. User Tools

Here is an introductory list of links to products and technologies that have accessibility features.


Alternative Web Browsers: People with disabilities use a wide range of alternative approaches to accessing web pages that are different from traditional mouse-and-screen-based browsers.

Go to a comprehensive list of alternative web browsers prepared by the World Wide Web Consortium.

Multi-media players: If a multi-media production has been produced with accessibility in mind, the accessible file can be accessed in a number of multi-media players that have accessible features.

Go to the multi-media player list prepared by the U.S. based National Center for Accessible Media.

Also go to the multi-media player list from the World Wide Web Consortium.

Screen Readers and Talking Browsers: Screen reader technology is able to "read" web page text (and other computer text) so it can be converted to other formats such as audio and Braille.

Go to the University of Toronto screen reader listing.

Off the Web

DAISY Audio: An emerging audio technology is DAISY or "Digital Audio-based Information System". Using this technology, a publication in audio format can be "tagged" so the user can quickly and easily navigate the publication's pages, chapters, sections and other components without the need to rewind or fast forward. It is similar to music CDs where the user can select a particular track with the touch of a button.

Go to the comprehensive list of products that will play DAISY recordings on the DAISY website.

Braille Embossers and software: A Braille embosser is a hardware device for "printing" a Braille document. Braille translation software is used to translate the text from the computer into Braille.

Go to the University of Toronto list of Braille embossers and software programs.

2. Developer Tools

These links point to resources for web and multi-media authors and developers.


Accessibility Guidelines: A number of guidelines have been produced by the World Wide Web Consortium to help website developers make their sites accessible.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: Explains in detail how to make a Website accessible for people with a variety of disabilities.

Go to the World Wide Web Consortium's WCAG section.

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines: For software developers, explains how to make a variety of authoring tools support the production of accessible Web content, and also how to make the software itself accessible.

Go to the World Wide Web Consortium's ATAG section.

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines: For software developers, explains how to make accessible browsers, multi-media players, and assistive technologies that interface with these.

Go to the World Wide Web Consortium's UAAG section.

XML Accessibility Guidelines: For developers of XML-based applications (Extensible Markup Language), these guidelines explain how to ensure that XML-based applications support accessibility. XML is commonly used to format, package and retrieve content.

Go to the World Wide Web Consortium's XML section.

SMIL Tools: The Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL, pronounced "smile") enables simple authoring of interactive audiovisual presentations. SMIL is typically used for "rich media"/multimedia presentations which integrate streaming audio and video with images, text or any other media type. SMIL is an easy-to-learn HTML-like language, and many SMIL presentations are written using a simple text-editor.

Go to the World Wide Web consortium's section on Audio and Video.

Other Developer Tools: In addition to SMIL, there are other developer tools such as "Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange" that can be used to improve accessibility.

Go to the comprehensive list from the World Wide Web Consortium.

Also go the World Wide Web Consortium's product listing.

Style Sheets: Style sheets are used to control all aspects of a website's visual appearance, including the colours, sizes and placement of text and images on a page. One style sheet can ensure that text and presentation throughout a website is consistent in format. But style sheets can also be created so that the user can adjust them. For example, a person who is colour blind can adjust the sheets to show a page only as black and white.

Go to the World Wide Web Consortium website on style sheets.

Online Forms: The escalation of e-commerce and information gathering through the Internet has resulted in many more online forms. HTML forms can often be made accessible with single column layout of controls, clear and meaningful labels and the use of accessible HTML coding. Many types of on-line forms are inaccessible either for technical reasons (the format is not understood by current assistive technologies) or design reasons (the form is highly complex). Much research is underway to make on-line forms both accessible and usable by people with disabilities.

Go the the Common Look and Feel reference about forms.

Pop-up windows and drop-down menus: Many websites have become so large, they are using pop-up windows and drop-down menus to relieve the visual stress within crowded navigation schemes. Both of these methods were considered inaccessible because of their dependence on the use of a mouse and graphical browser techniques, but additional coding can make some pop-up windows and drop-down menus accessible to keyboard and screen-reader users.

Go to the Common Look and Feel reference on pop-up menus.

Chat Forums: It is estimated that online chats and instant messaging will account for more personal and corporate communications than the telephone. Nearly 800 million instant messages are being sent each day in North America, a figure expected to exceed 5 billion in the next few years (source: IDC, a global information technology consulting firm). The most accessible chat programs are those produced with HTML output. But a chat program developed with any technical language, including java, can be made accessible by keyboard control, making sure messages can be refreshed and scrolled by the user, and ensuring compatibility with popular screen readers.

Go to a sample of a fully accessible chat forum on the Special Needs Opportunity Windows website of the University of Toronto.

Scrolling Text: The popularity of scrolling news tickers on all-news TV stations has led to scrolling text on the Internet. However, scrolling text is generally not accessible. If it is used, it should be accompanied by an accessible static version.

Learning-Friendly approaches: Many people become overwhelmed and discouraged by crowded web pages with confusing navigation. For people with learning disabilities, such websites are particularly challenging. Ensure that your website is easy to use with a logical progression of sections and without overly-long pages.

Off the Web

Captioning Software: A wide range of programs are available to produce captioning.

Go to the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association links page.

DAISY Audio: Digital Audio-based Information System or DAISY is an audio format that "tags" a digital publication so the user can quickly and easily navigate the publication's pages, chapters, sections and other components without the need to rewind or fast forward.

Go to the comprehensive list of production tools on the DAISY website.

UEBC Braille: Technical writing in English Braille has been challenging because there are three American and three British codes. As a result, the International Council on English Braille has been developing a single standard known as "Unified English Braille Code" (UEBC).

Go to the ICEB website.

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