Software checklist

Checkpoint 3.1: Visual cues for audio alerts

Provide an option to provide at least one non-audio cue for all audio alerts.


Rationale

Users may not be able to hear or distinguish sounds if they are deaf or hard-of-hearing, work in noisy environments, or turn off sounds to avoid disturbing others. In order for these users to respond to audio alerts, those alerts must be presented presented in at least one alternate non-audio form as well. Alternative forms include visual cues (such as popup windows, status indicators, or LEDs) and haptics (such as vibrations, electrostatic sensations, etc.). Typical alerts might be the receipt of new mail, beeps to indicate system errors, or sounds to indicate a change in status.


Required development techniques


Use the following techniques to meet Checkpoint 3.1 from the IBM Software Accessibility Checklist:

  1. If the application has audio alerts, allow the user to choose alternative cues for audio alerts.
  2. Provide alternative cues if the user selects the option to have alternative cues for audio alerts.

Examples for Microsoft Windows developers

1. If the application has audio alerts, allow the user to choose alternative cues for audio alerts using one of the following techniques:

Example 1

The Windows SoundSentry feature can be used to provide visual feedback for general system alerts such as warning beeps. SoundSentry directs the operating system to display a visual signal when a sound is generated by an application. SoundSentry requires no special coding on the part of application developers. For more information, see Enabling SoundSentry on the Microsoft developers Web site.

Example 2

ShowSounds is an accessibility feature in Windows which instructs programs that usually convey information only by sound to also provide all information visually, such as by displaying text captions or informative icons. The ShowSounds feature is set by the user through Accessibility Options in the Windows Control Panel. For more information, see Accessing ShowSounds Programmatically on the Microsoft developers Web site. The application can test to see if the system environment is set to enable visual cue for audio alerts. The application can access this system information through ShowSounds by calling the GetSystemMetrics function with the SM_SHOWSOUNDS parameter to get the value of the ShowSounds system parameter. If SM_SHOWSOUNDS is true or non-zero, present visual equivalents of audio information.

Example 3

The application can test to see if the system environment is set to enable visual cue for audio alerts. The application can access this system information through ShowSounds by calling the SystemParametersInfo function with the SPI_GETSHOWSOUNDS parameter. If set, present visual equivalents for all audio information.

Example 4

The application can provide its own custom setting for visual cues.

2. Provide alternative cues if the user selects the option to have alternative cues for audio alerts.

Example 5

The application can provide visual cues by displaying a message box for the alert. ( Message Format Class of java.text , Windows MessageBox ).

Example 6

The application can provide visual cues by displaying a status indicator on the notification area of the taskbar that flashes when initially displayed to attract the user's attention. (Windows Shell_NotifyIcon NIM_MODIFY ).

Example 7

The application can provide visual cues by placing a text message in a status window. ( Container subclass for Panel or Dialog , java.awt.container , Windows C StatusBarCtrl SetPaneText ).

Example 8

The application can provide visual cues by displaying a dialog. ( java.awt.dialog , Windows CreateDialog ).

Examples for Mac OS X developers

1. If the application has audio alerts, allow the user to choose alternative cues for audio alerts.

Example 9

The visual alerts feature is set by the user to request that errors and alerts sounds be presented visually by having the screen flash. This is set by the user in Universal Access.

2. Provide alternative cues if the user selects the option to have alternative cues for audio alerts.

Example 10

The application can provide visual cues for alerts by displaying a dialog window or providing a status indicator on the taskbar that flashes to attract the user's attention.

Examples for iOS developers

1. If the application has audio alerts, allow the user to choose alternative cues for audio alerts.

Example 11

An iOS application allows the user to select any or all of: visual alerts, audio alerts, or haptic alerts

2. Provide alternative cues if the user selects the option to have alternative cues for audio alerts.

Example 12

An iOS application causes a visual alert to display instead of an audio alert.

Example 13

An iOS application only for an iPhone is set to non-audio mode. The application provides haptic vibration when an audio alert is received.

Note: iOS on the iPhone has a feature that will cause haptic vibrations when an audio alert is received and the phone is in silent mode is on. This is automatic when the developer uses AudioServicesPlayAlertSound. However, not all iOS devices provide haptic feedback. Developers are responsible for providing a non-audio alert on all supported platforms.


Required test techniques

Test the software to ensure that it complies with accessibility requirements.

Required test software

There are no tools required to test this checkpoint.

Test techniques

Windows test techniques

The following techniques are required to verify this checkpoint:


Action Result

1

Enable SoundSentry to verify there are visual cues for system audio alerts.

  1. Open the Control Panel - Accessibility Options window. On the Sound page, select the option to "Use SoundSentry".
  2. Switch focus back to the application.
  3. Perform an action that causes the software to generate a system audio alert.
  4. Verify that the software provides a visual cue for system audio alerts.

Pass:

The software provides visual cues for system audio alerts. The following visual cues may be used:

Fail:

There are no visual indications for the system audio alerts. If there are no cues using ShowSounds, perform the next test to see if there is an application option to display visual cues.

2

Enable ShowSounds to verify there are visual cues for audio alerts.

  1. Open the Control Panel - Accessibility Options window. On the Sound page, select the option to "Use ShowSounds".
  2. Switch focus back to the application.
  3. Perform an action that causes the software to generate a sound.
  4. Verify that the software provides a visual cue in addition to the audio alert.

Pass:

The software provides visual cues for audio alerts. The following list provides examples of visual cues that may be used:

Fail:

There are no visual indications for the audio alerts. If there are no cues using ShowSounds, perform the next test to see if there is an application option to display visual cues.

3

Test the user option to display visual cues for audio alerts. You do not need to perform this test if the ShowSounds test was successful.

If the software did not provide a visual cue with ShowSounds enabled, it must provide a user option to show audio alerts visually.

  1. Enable the user option to display visual cues for audio alerts.
  2. Switch focus back to the application.
  3. Perform an action that causes the software to generate a sound.
  4. Verify that the software provides a visual cue in addition to the audio alert.

Pass:

The software provides visual cues for audio alerts. The following list provides examples of visual cues that may be used:

Fail:

Mac OS X test techniques

The following techniques are required to verify this checkpoint:


Action Result

1

Enable screen flashing to verify there are visual cues for system audio alerts.

Pass:

The screen flashes when there is an alert.

Fail:

The screen does not flash when there is an alert.

iOS test techniques

The following techniques are required to verify this checkpoint:


Action Result

1

Pass:

The non-audio alert occurs when there is an alert.

Fail:

The non-audio alert does not occur when there is an alert.

©2009, 2013 IBM Corporation

Last updated January 28, 2013.