Re: [orca-list] quality

On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 11:11:31AM -0500, Albert E. Sten-Clanton wrote:
Will, this seems as good a time as any to express my appreeciation of the
unerringly constructive way you respond on this list to problems and

I fully agree. Also, I think we are fortunate to have the benefit of the
knowledge, expertise and dedication that Will brings to the development of

I first became aware of his involvement in about 1995 or 96, when I read
papers published by the UltraSonix project, the first screen reader developed
for the X Window System. As I understand it, this was the project in which the
idea of an accessibility API was first proposed and implemented. Researchers
at Sun and IBM extended this work in developing an accessibility API for Java,
all of which laid the foundations for Gnome accessibility and eventually,

As a matter of historical detail, I don't know where Microsoft obtained the
idea of an accessibility API, but I wouldn't be surprised if it came from the
UltraSonix work also. In those days, discussion of accessibility to graphical
user interfaces, outside the UltraSonix project, was concerned with off-screen
models and how unreliable the techniques were that attempted to extract
information from the operating system about the user interface so as to
construct and update these models. OS/2 Screen Reader had a reputation for
doing this particularly well.

What the UltraSonix researchers found, and documented in their papers, was
that under the X Window System, it wasn't possible to extract the necessary
details regarding the objects in the user interface in a reliable way, without
modifying the user interface components to provide the required details, hence
the move to an accessibility API.

I hope I'm not rewriting history too much here; unless I'm terribly mistaken,
this is roughly correct, even if some of the details aren't.

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