IBM gives Mozilla code for the disabled

IBM gives Mozilla code for the disabled

Summary: IBM is a big leader in important technologies, like voice, that the disabled rely upon, and creating something that grows demand can't be bad.


Just days after learning that Firefox has been losing some of its market share, we get news that IBM is donating 50,000 lines of code to Mozilla to make Firefox more usable by people with disabilities.

Given that my mom has been 99 44/100th percent blind since the 1970s, I would like to think that IBM was acting entirely out of altruism.

But I know better.

FirefoxEven if this wasn't a move aimed explicitly at Microsoft IBM has a lot to gain from more browsing by the disabled. IBM is a big leader in important technologies, like voice, that the disabled rely upon, and creating something that grows demand can't be bad. For anyone.

It does sometimes surprise me how little we've advanced, in terms of computing interfaces, since the Apple II. Except for the mouse, we're still relying on the same typewriters, TVs and tape recorders we did then. Only the form factors (and some of the innards) have changed.

Yet a computer is not a TV, typewriter, and tape recorder. Those are interfaces, methods for inputting and outputting data. The computer is in the middle. The computer is the box.

In Gordon Moore's famous Electronics article, there's an illustration of a futuristic computer being sold in a department store. The clerk holds a box. The customers ooh and aah. There's no keyboard there, no mouse, no storage device, no TV. It's just a box.

If IBM's move reminds us of that, and fires the imagination, it could even be good for Microsoft.

Topics: Mobility, Browser, CXO, Hardware, IBM

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  • Strange

    IBM gives away code for disabled, but it stops all production on ViaVoice for Linux - and releases no code. I would think that voice recognition would be a help to the disabled, and if IBM can't make money on it for Linux - release it!
    Roger Ramjet
  • built-in accessibility

    Accessibility technology needs to be more prevalent and less costly, and more applications need to take advantage of the technology. My wife and kids have visual impairments of varying degrees, and I have found the accessibility features of Windows (2K) to be inadequate, and add-on software (e.g., Zoom Text) to be expensive. Also, most of the programs my kids use (read: games, but including educational games) are designed for full-screen graphics display at specific resolutions so screen readers and magnifiers aren?t useful. (Someone recently showed how quickly they could change the magnification of an iMac screen, but I don?t know if that would be any better.)

    In short, if (hardware, software, information, web, etc.) developers built-in accessibility like building and business owners have to, computers would be much easier to use and information much easier to access for people with visual and mobility limitations.
    J. D. S.