Re: [g-a-devel] Status of IBM a11y

Hi Jason,

As someone working for one of those small number of companies working on GNOME, Mozilla, etc. accessibility, I couldn't agree with you more. I am appreciative of the contributions IBM has made to our work - perhaps in the future we will see a resumption of their effort.

I also want to recognize some of the (now not so) new - and wonderfully steady - contributions from the Ubuntu accessibility effort. They are bringing wonderful energy to our community, and also doing a lovely job of bringing Summer of Code funding, which in turn can help foster new engineering talent into the field.

We also have a growing body of individual contributors to specific pieces of the overall accessibility task. In particular, the Orca project has gathered a growing collection of folks making significant contributions. I fear I might miss some if I tried to name them (the Orca change logs tell this tale much more eloquently in any case). I think one way we grow the community is around specific accessibility needs like vision impairments.

One place I continue hoping will become a real source of energy are the disability organizations - like various national organizations for the blind. For so very long the primary - and perhaps sole - tool of disability organizations to improve technology access has been advocacy. Disability organizations pushing industry through letters and laws and lawsuits to develop accessible products and technology. But open source provides a new and powerful tool to disability organizations and the disability community overall. I encourage everyone who is a member of a disability organization on this alias to consider ways of having those organizations formally get involved in improving open source accessibility solutions. So many of these organizations have as a goal increasing the digital literacy of their constituents, and improving their access information, services, and the Internet. Also improving the dismal rates of employment of people with disabilities. Open source accessibility is one of the best vehicles I can think of to move rapidly on those goals.

Separate from all that, as someone who has been part of the GNOME and accessibility efforts since their beginning (and part of the Mozilla accessibility effort since the start of the UNIX portion of it), I very much welcome any suggestions you have for what I and Sun can do to further help bring more developers from a wider spectrum of organizations into our community.


Peter Korn
Accessibility Architect,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

On Fri, Jun 01, 2007 at 03:01:50PM -0400, David Bolter wrote:
That was painful to read.

I've been concerned for some time that much of the work involved in creating accessibility support for Gnome, Mozilla, etc., has fallen to a small number of corporate-sponspored developers. That corporate support can change, or evaporate, at any time, as perceptions of business needs or other priorities alter.

What worries me is not that these projects are supported and sponsored, in large part, by corporations - this is true of other free software projects as well - but, rather, that there appears to be a concentration of expertise in a small number of companies which end up doing a lot of the actual development work.

I'm not sure how to change this, but for the future of accessibility in Linux, especially in Gnome, KDE, Mozilla, OpenOffice, etc., I think it would be a healthier community if the responsibility were spread out more among developers working for a wider spectrum of organizations. That is, accessibility support needs to become more of a community effort than it now is.

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