American Foundation for the Blind
1000 Fifth Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701
The American Foundation for the Blind, the organization to which Helen Keller dedicated over 40 years of her life, removes barriers, creates solutions, and expands possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential. One of the ways we accomplish these goals is through the work conducted at AFB Tech, our product evaluation, development, and consulting lab in Huntington, WV, where we work with the world’s leading technology companies to help them make their hardware and software more accessible and usable for people with vision loss.
In the AFB Tech testing lab, we recently conducted a product evaluation of the Discover Access for SharePoint™software released late last year by Discover Technologies of Reston VA. The product evaluation compared OOTB SharePoint in SP 2010 and SP O-365 with Discover Access for SharePoint™, a software solution designed to make SharePoint easier to use. We tested and compared these products based on how well they interact with various screen reader software products used by people with vision loss to access computers.
While we will release a detailed product evaluation in the next month, we are able to give you a quick summary of preliminary findings. It was very clear to us that Discover Access for SharePoint™ has significant usability features over the out of the box experience in both environments. The superior usability comes largely from the intuitive architecture and lack of popup menus and other sighted user intended features, as well as from clear and easy to use instructions.
We found it substantially easier to manage calendar events, upload and edit documents and collaborate with team members. While SharePoint has made progress with their more accessibility mode, Discover Access for SharePoint™ clearly stands out as the more usable solution. Although we found that we could eventually complete most tasks we attempted in the out of the box environment, the level of frustration and confusion was significant. For example, simply changing the name of a document took nearly 20 minutes in our initial attempt. The experience with the Discover Access solution was much more intuitive and streamlined, giving a person with vision loss the ability to complete each task as effectively and efficiently as his or her sighted peers. This is extremely important in today’s competitive job market, giving us the ability to compete on an even playing field with our sighted peers.
After experiencing the significant differences between SharePoint OOTB and Discover Access we highly recommend that organizations using SharePoint consider adding Discover Access to their environment to enable their visually and cognitively impaired workers to utilize all of the great collaborative features of SharePoint.