I am very pleased to announce that the Worldspace FireEyes (this is the official name of the product we have been referring to as "FireEyes" during development) Beta 1 was released today. Although we have been doing research and design on the algorithms and techniques since 2009, we started development in earnest in February 2010. Hitting the release milestone on the head feels really good.
We really wanted to push the envelope on the usability side. We think that the accessibility community has been given short shrift up until now in this department. So even though some of our static functionality exists elsewhere, we wanted to make it much easier to use with Worldspace FireEyes. We hope we have achieved this and would love to get feedback from the accessibility community on the places we have hit the mark and the places where we still have some work to do.
We also wanted to push the envelope on the dynamic side. We have features that track all events in the browser and look for patterns that indicate accessibility issues. We can detect dragging of sliders and drag and drop operations and warn the developer to make sure those features are keyboard accessible. We track focus as it changes in the browser and (combined with aria attributes) raise issues or warnings when the correct behavior does not happen. Most importantly, we do not generate false positives - or at least we tried really hard. We'd love to get feedback from the dynamic application accessibility and the WAI-ARIA communities on how we did and what we can do to improve even more.
We also wanted to push the envelope on some of the more tedious analyses such as color contrast and reading order analysis and have added features to really speed up the evaluation of a page and determining why something is not right. We can detect the correct background even when an element's background is not in the same HTML tree as it. We can detect the correct contrast - even when the background of an element is a graphic. These are things that the Juicy Studios tool cannot do. Check out the "Details" popup on the color contrast issues...we think its cool. We'd love to know what you think.
Finally, we wanted to support the way that developers and designers work. We think that making it easy, fun and even cool to create accessible content is the only way to ensure that it gets done. Thats why we integrated Worldspace FireEyes into the most widely used development tool - Firebug. We have also built in support for project life cycles to make it easy to do the right thing.
In all of these areas, there are bunches more features we want to add soon. This is why we released it as a beta. We'd love to get your feedback on what to add too, so get engaged and stay tuned.