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Global Accessibility Awareness Day

GAAD Colorblindness

More than one in four Americans have a disability, according to the CDC. The most common disabilities are visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive impairments. Each affects a person’s relationship with technology. Taken as a whole, this means that over a quarter of Americans face some sort of obstacle when interacting with common communication and information technologies.

The US is currently a leader in accessibility legislation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act both detail how organizations can make information and communications technologies accessible for people with disabilities. As Europe follows the US’s lead to lay down more stringent accessibility regulations, people around the world are poised to benefit.

As a US-based company, Mastercam is proud to meet and exceed accessibility standards. Our users are diverse. Their talents are diverse. Their experiences are diverse. It would not make sense to offer a one-size-fits-all software solution. We are dedicated to offering equitable opportunities and services to everyone. Chief Strategy and Experience Officer Russ Bukowski recently sat down to discuss how Mastercam seeks to go beyond compliance.

What inclusive design elements are featured in Mastercam’s software to assist people with disabilities or impairments? How do these features enhance the overall user experience?

Mastercam does our best to meet these standards in a variety of ways. We have implemented features that work with multiple input devices to perform the same action. For example, a keyboard, mouse, light pen, or eye-tracking device could all be used to direct the exact same functions within the software. We have integrated with screen-reading technology (native Windows tools and third-party solutions) for users with cognitive or visual impairments. We have designed colorblind-friendly options to ensure Mastercam works out of the box for all users.

By eliminating barriers, we increase the number of users who can run Mastercam and the diversity in a traditionally homogenous sector.

How does Mastercam prioritize which accessibility features to integrate in its software updates?

Accessibility is at the core of our user experience strategy. For each function that is developed for Mastercam, we ensure that it can be operated using multiple input devices. We provide access keys for all inputs, which allows quick navigation via keyboard or assistive technology. We test the software using various vision simulations to identify potential issues for users with visual impairments. We reduce the cognitive load for users by minimizing the number of options available at any given time.

Can you discuss any challenges or obstacles encountered while integrating accessibility features into Mastercam?

Because Mastercam is visually oriented, it can often be difficult to create accessibility features for manipulating 3D graphics on a screen. This is an area on which Mastercam continues to focus, creating innovative accessibility features to improve the user experience. Recently, we have integrated keyboard shortcuts that allow quick access to on-screen controls for graphically editing objects in the 3D space.

What are users saying about the effectiveness of these accessibility features in Mastercam?

In 2017, Mastercam launched a new user interface that was intended to decrease cognitive load. Memorizing and recalling numerous small icons can be mentally exhausting. The new interface made functions easier to find. While the change was universally well-received, users with cognitive impairments expressed the most positive changes. They reported that the new interface allowed them to operate much faster.

Mastercam’s adherence to ADA standards has allowed us to maintain our position as a key player in the education sector as well. Many universities have relied on our accessibility features to be awarded government funding for their manufacturing programs.

How can we learn more?

Visit the Global Accessibility Awareness Day site to browse success stories and accessibility resources. Also check out the Mastercam Digital Accessibility Statement page to learn more about what we do to support inclusive tech. Our full statement is below:

“Mastercam is committed to providing an equal and quality experience for everyone. We’re constantly working towards improving the accessibility of our website to ensure we provide equal access to individuals with disabilities including those with visual, hearing, cognitive, and motor impairments.

Wherever possible, we strive to conform to level A and AA of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2. These guidelines provide a foundation for how to make web content more accessible for people with various disabilities. We believe not only in conformance with these guidelines but that optimization around them will help make the web more user-friendly for everyone.”