Re: [orca-list] FW: Orca - suggestions for the future!


Just a couple of thoughts about contacting companies/software development groups regarding accessibility.

First and foremost, make it easy for them. If you are writing to someone requesting that they make their software/hardware/components/tools/widgets/etc. more accessible, you should provide them with links to information that they can use to learn how to make their product more accessible. I believe it was within the last year that Will posted a list of these links to this mailing list. I have a bunch of code to get working by Monday night, so I don't have time at the moment to dig through the archives to find the list of links. But, if no one can get it done by Tuesday, I'll take a look then.

The specifics of this second point are related to the U.S., but there may be similar laws in other countries. If you are requesting that an organization make access a priority, and that organization produces something that might be used/purchased by the U.S. government, then there is a provision in U.S. law that can be used as an incentive. It is known colloquially as Section 508. Section 508 requires that any IT software or equipment purchased by or used by the U.S. government be accessible ( I strongly recommend that you not use Section 508 as a threat--use it as an incentive. If you bring up Section 508 in a message you are sending, explain that you are requesting that they make their product accessible and here is another good reason they do so--making it accessible allows their product to be acquired/used by the U.S. government. Companies love to get contracts with the U.S. government and people who work on open source projects like to see their work utilized. Discarding the potential market/user population of the hundreds of thousands of U.S. government employees is something most organizations don't want to contemplate.

Admittedly, the U.S. government enforces Section 508 at its convenience. For instance, the U.S. government has been purchasing vast numbers of Blackberries over the years, and they have been inaccessible until very recently. So, the cynic in me believes that this law was never enforced in this case because those who were to enforce it didn't want to give up their Blackberries.

While I believe that those who worked for Sun Microsystems on Orca truly believed in an open-source screen reader (certainly Will has been developing access technology for decades), the cynic in me believes that Sun invested the money in the Orca project because they needed to make Solaris accessible and Gnopernicus failed to be completely developed. (Will, I apologize if this offends you, but it is what I believe, given conversations I had with folks from Sun back when they were relying on Gnopernicus for access.) I cite this case because it shows, I believe, the power of incentive that Section 508 can bring to the situation.

I need to get back to work, but I just wanted to throw these ideas into the discussion.


On 02/06/2010 03:57 PM, Jason White wrote:
Anthony Sales<tony sales rncb ac uk>  wrote:
This is what I am going to do:
Contact Canonical and inform them of Willie's availablility  and skills
Anyone with contacts in Red Hat, Novell, the Linux Foundation or other
relevant organizations might wish to raise the matter of supporting
accessibility and Orca as well by funding development and, especially,
employing developers to work on it.

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