Why Windows is a must-have for accessible website development
To ensure a website is accessible to as many users as possible, it is important to make sure it is working on the most widespread assistive software. At the time being, most users with special needs have Windows-specific software running. That's the reason why you need to have a Windows environment available to you, whether you like it or not.
From this day on, you will be developing websites with accessibility in mind. Congratulations! Luckily, you can keep using all the software you already know and love.
But to ensure your websites' accessibility, you need some Windows-specific software, especially regarding desktop screen readers (if you are really curious and want to learn more about them, skip ahead and read Relevant combinations of screen readers and browsers).
Virtual machine: necessary or not?
If you're not running Windows yourself already, the use of a virtual machine (Wikipedia.org) (VM) to run all the needed Windows software is an obvious necessity.
And even if Windows is your used operating system already, we still advise you to run a dedicated Windows system inside a VM. This prevents pollution of your main environment, and also most probably disruption of your daily workflow (for example, by a constantly talking synthesised screen reader voice, aggressively commenting on everything you are doing while developing).
Other desktop operating systems
While macOS is heavily gaining popularity within the community of the blind, it is still much less used than Windows. And to this day, Linux is not a popular player at all in this respect.
Mobile operating systems
For people with special needs, smartphones open a whole new world of possibilities. As such, mobile operating systems are becoming more and more important.
In the current state, our guide focuses solely on desktop software. For future revisions, however, we are planning to add mobile-specific information.
For the time being, be assured that when following our guidelines and optimising your websites for assistive software on desktop, assistive software on mobile platforms will benefit as well.