First look at the Accessibility Foundation Module from HiSoftware:
The other day I wrote a post that HiSoftware announced their Accessibility Foundation Module. Shortly after that the CEO from HiSoftware contacted me and asked if I would like a walkthrough of the module. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
The Accessibility Foundation Module is an add-on to HiSoftware’s Compliance Sheriff. Compliance Sheriff is a tool that checks the accessibility of a SharePoint site. Since SharePoint is a Content Management tool, many people can enter content. But, that content isn’t always accessible. Among other things, Compliance Sheriff checks the accessibility of content being add by end-users into a SharePoint site. It can do this with custom workflows and reports.
The Accessibility Foundation Module is an add-on ontop of Compliance Sheriff. This module uses the same idea of the Accessibility Toolkit from HiSoftware (custom master pages, css sheets and control adapters). The Accessibility Foundation Module does look like a final product that can be installed onto a SharePoint site. It uses a feature to install (very nice compared to the installation of the Accessibility Toolkit). It also uses the “common” master page/look and feel for SharePoint (the Accessibility Toolkit only worked with the external/extra master pages). Also, it takes care of a lot of the common problems with SharePoint accessibility.
One of the features I really liked was the ARIA support (http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/aria).
The pricing model seems to be a CAL/server based license. It looks like this can get pretty expensive for large implementations. Truthfully, I didn’t get a full understanding of the pricing model based on the conversation (I need to talk more to them about that). But, regardless of the price, I think accessibility is worth it (especially in government space). So, all government agencies working with SharePoint 2007 should look into this when pricing out their implementations.
I haven’t had a chance to use this tool yet (I only got the walkthrough). So, once I get my hands on it I will be able to write another review. Until then, I’m going to encourage my clients to look into this because it “seems” to be far and away the best implementation I’ve seen for accessibility and SharePoint.
For anyone who is on the SharePoint 2010 bandwagon already, I did ask them about it. HiSoftware says that SharePoint 2010 isn’t as accessible as Microsoft wants us to think. I’d like to get a few instances from them, but that was very interesting to hear. So, HiSoftware is making this for SharePoint 2010 too. After I do a full assessment of SharePoint 2010 and accessibility I will be able to see whether the HiSoftware price is justified for this version.
HiSoftware just announced their AFM (Accessibility Foundation Module). http://www.hisoftware.com/products/CS_AFM.html.
“The optional Accessibility Foundation Module (AFM) provides users with a set of tools to create an accessible platform/framework for a SharePoint portal or intranet site. AFM is integrated into the Compliance Sheriff offering to provide a more complete and easy-to-deploy method of addressing SharePoint framework accessibility. The most significant advantage of AFM is the enterprise-friendly installation method that allows a SharePoint Server Administrator to easily apply a master configuration to multiple SharePoint Applications.”
I was never really a fan of the “completeness” of HiSoftwares Accessibility Kit for SharePoint. The ideas were good, but the implementation seemed incomplete to me. I did use their ideas and extend that kit for accessible SharePoint projects. But, could never use it out-of-the-box and the amount of work involved was always very high. Hopefully this new Module is more of an out-of-the-box approach to accessibility (I’d rather pay vs build for this).
I don’t know too much about the details of this Kit yet, but as soon as I get my hands on it I will post my thoughts.
SharePoint Saturday DC was this past weekend and it was a huge success. This is one of my favorite events to present at. Thank you to everyone in attendance. As promised, I posted my slides for my building custom, accessible SharePoint sites at: http://cid-edc29fe0d60f1fc3.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/.Public/AccessibleSP.pptx.