Georgia Tech Research Institute
 

Are there any tools available to help me as a developer to experience some of the web accessibility issues encountered by people with disabilities?

There are some useful tools listed on this website: http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/. Some of these tools will actually simulate what is seen by a person with low vision. For example, Vischeck (http://www.vischeck.com/) provides tools to help designers understand the web experience of users with several forms of color blindness. The W3C also has written an article titled "How People with Disabilities Use the Web," which can be found at http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/.

WebAIM provides good background information on several types of disabilities at http://www.webaim.org/articles/. They cover visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities, and the articles include some simulations. WebAIM also has a simulations page at http://www.webaim.org/simulations/ that addresses use of a screen reader as well as the experiences of low vision and a cognitive disability (i.e., distractions).

Also, if you have access to any assistive technologies, such as screen readers, you can use those products yourself to determine how someone could experience your site. Windows XP has a built-in read-aloud feature called Narrator that works similarly to a screen reader. While not all screen readers work identically, this feature can be used to give you an idea of the experience that people who are blind will have with your website or software application.