This is an email that was written by Gary Ritchie to Raymond Tremblay in response to our query about screen readers and R studio.
Hi. Yes, I am working on making the RStudio IDE accessible in the next release (1.3), and happy to talk about it.
We (RStudio) do recognize the importance of this. Unfortunately it is a retro-fit, rather than something that was baked in from the start, so it's a major undertaking. I'm happy to talk to any interested parties about progress and plans, and share early builds once they have reached a useful level of functionality.
RStudio Server is a web application, used via a web browser, thus subject to web accessibility guidelines and technologies.
RStudio Desktop is also a web application! It's essentially the same web application as RStudio Server but displayed in a desktop shell using the Chromium browser (the open-source core of Google Chrome). There are some additional accessibility challenges due to this, still being worked through, and right now I'm focused on the shared RStudio Server aspects.
I am targeting WCAG 2.1 level AA compliance, testing primarily with VoiceOver/Safari on Mac, and FireFox/NVDA on Windows. I do also conduct some tests with other combinations of screen readers and web browsers, including Chrome, JAWS, and Narrator. Naturally as part of this working towards full usability with keyboard-only, and voice-control.
In order to release RStudio 1.3 in a reasonable amount of time (very tentatively aiming for first half of 2020), I don't expect to achieve full compliance for every nook and cranny of the RStudio IDE (though I will try). Any known exceptions will be called out in our WCAG/VPAT assessment documents.
I am aware that "compliance" with things such as WCAG does not always translate to genuine "usability", and early testing and feedback from real users will be greatly appreciated.
You can see actual code-level changes as they are made in this Github project board: https://github.com/rstudio/rstudio/projects/4