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- Download WindowCatcher for Windows (8.2 MB)
- MSI installer including source code and Visual Studio project
Improved installer that includes all the dependent resources - Read more
Assistive Technology (AT) software facilitates alternative ways for accessing and controlling computers other than through a conventional keyboard or mouse. For example, programmable on-screen keyboards can enable users to input and output information by using one or two switches or head-pointer. Assistive Technology can provide the only means by which people with specific disabilities are able to access ICT, and is often found to be beneficial by a broad cross-section of the population.
Assistive Technology software requires access to the user interface of the application with which it is being used. User Interface Automation (UIA) has been under development by Microsoft for some years and has recently been enhanced and released as an integral facility within MS Vista. UIA offers the potential for a quantum leap forward in the development of assistive technology.
This report documents the results of a pilot programme to investigate the potential benefits of UIA as applied to AT software. The output of the project is WindowCatcher - a demonstration exemplar application which can be used with target applications operating within the MS Windows XP or Vista environments. WindowCatcher will interrogate the user interface of a target application and develop an accessible grid of the underlying information controlling that program. The grid is accessible either directly through WindowCatcher or exportable to user optimised AT software. For this pilot project Special Access to Windows (SAW) has been used as an example AT programme. WindowCatcher has been shown to work successfully with a number of target applications including both stand-alone and web-based applications delivered through standard web browsers. As well as providing a means of alternative access WindowCatcher also provides additional information on the accessibility of software and is considered to offer potential as an accessibility testing tool.
Although only a pilot, this project has demonstrated the potential benefits arising from increased access to the user interface for providing enhanced AT software and for improved tools for accessibility testing. With further development more user ready applications are achievable.
WindowCatcher is being released under an open-source licence to encourage uptake and further development by both commercial and non-commercial developers.
The report provides some background into UIA, and gives guidance on the use of WindowCatcher for:
· Users of WindowCatcher itself as an access tool.
· Developers of mainstream software who may want to use WindowCatcher to analyse the accessibility of their products
· Developers of Assistive Technology software