Eclipse gets accessibility toolkit

Eclipse gets accessibility toolkit

Summary: While accessibility is a niche market, it has proven inordinately useful to Microsoft in establishing its proprietary formats as industry standards. Perhaps with this donation, Eclipse can start to take that advantage away.

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UT Austin Web Accessibility Insititute iconIBM contributed its Accessibility Tools Framework to the Eclipse Foundation, which created a page for its "incubation" phase.

IBM has also begun moving source code and other resources to an Eclipse repository. (To the right, the icon of the UT Austin Accessibility Institute.)

The move could make open source tools more competitive with Microsoft in terms of accessibility. Microsoft has long been able to use the disabled community in its effort to maintain support for Microsoft formats, and it dominates that market.

The Mozilla Foundation has been working on disability issues under Frank Hecker. Eclipse head Mike Milinkovich wrote Hecker about the IBM gift in July.

Aaron Leventhal of Access Mozilla added to the thread that the foundation hoped to contribute a Java developer to the project. I have written him to ask about whether there has been any progress on that front.

Among the tools available is the IBM Rule-based Accessibility Validation Environment (RAVEn) an Eclipse-based tool for inspecting and validating Java rich-client and Web-based GUI-oriented applications for accessibility.

AJAX and other visual tools are often off-limits to blind and other disabled users, which means that as the Web improves it becomes less accessible.

While accessibility is a niche market, it has proven inordinately useful to Microsoft in establishing its proprietary formats as industry standards. Perhaps with this donation, Eclipse can start to take that advantage away.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, IBM, Open Source, Software Development

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  • Mozilla Foundation accessibility projects

    Dana: In your blog post you asked about the possibility of the Mozilla Foundation funding a Java developer to work on the Accessibility Tools Framework. We've funded a number of accessibility-related projects in which we've contracted for developers to work on accessibility features of various software products of interest to Mozilla. We'd be glad to consider doing the same in the context of the Accessibility Tools Framework, if there's a suitable chunk of work that needs doing and an available developer who's qualified to do the work. We're open to proposals; interested parties should contact myself and/or Aaron Leventhal.

    People interested in the sorts of accessibility-related projects we fund can look at our list of Mozilla Foundation grants and related expenditures for 2006 (1) and the corresponding list for 2007 to date (2). More background information about the Mozilla Foundation's accessibility-related efforts can be found in my original blog post om Mozilla and accessibility (3), as well as a follow-up post discussing a proposed Mozilla accessibility vision and strategy (4). Finally, note that the Mozilla Foundation now accepts donations earmarked for accessibility projects (5), for anyone who'd like to contribute to our accessibility-related initiatives.

    1. http://hecker.org/mozilla/foundation-grants-2006
    2. http://hecker.org/mozilla/foundation-grants-2007
    3. http://hecker.org/mozilla/accessibility-for-all
    4. http://hecker.org/mozilla/accessibility-vision-and-strategy
    5. http://www.mozilla.org/access/donate.html
    heckermozilla