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Conference This Week on ODF, Disability Issues
Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 12:40 PM EST

Sun Microsystems' Accessibility Architect Peter Korn has some news of a conference March 20-25, the California State University, Northridge Center's 21st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in Los Angeles. Sun has sent representatives to this conference for a decade, Korn tells us. This year, Sun has some presentations that sound very interesting. I'll let Korn tell you about them:
We have a few special events/highlights for this year in addition to our usual "what's new" presentations on Java and GNOME accessibility:

1. Public introduction of Orca, the open source, scripting screen reader we are developing. In addition to showing Orca in our booth, we'll be giving both an introductory Orca talk, as well as a talk on writing scripts in Orca at the conference. ...

3. Product demonstrations of Fonix corporation's DECtalk software text-to-speech running on Solaris systems in our booth.

4. Demonstrations of the accessible features of Elluminate Live, a Java-based distance learning application.

By the way, DECtalk works on Linux and Windows, not just on Solaris. There will also be a panel discussion on ODF with Korn, StarOffice/ accessibility architect Malte Timmermann, IBM Accessibility expert Rich Schwerdtfeger, Free Standards Group Accessibility Workgroup chair Janina Sajka, and the Director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability Myra Berloff. Korn:

In this extra-long session (nearly 2 hours) we hope to examine virtually every aspect of the Open Document Format accessibility issue, give demonstrations of the accessibility support that already exists (and note where it needs to be improved), and answer questions.

If you go, please be Groklaw's eyes and ears and send us a report, will you? Here's the page for how to find it and all the details you'll need.

So if you happen to read on Newsforge, and of course up on Slashdot, purporting to say that there is a lack of communication between FOSS and the disabled, all I can say is that the author, for whatever reason, seems to be out of the loop.


Conference This Week on ODF, Disability Issues | 103 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
OT here
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 12:59 PM EST
And here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT (non-anonymous)
Authored by: bbaston on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 01:15 PM EST
Links appreciated

Ben, Groklawian in training
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: bbaston on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 01:17 PM EST
Neatly in one place for PJ (if needed)

Ben, Groklawian in training
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Conference This Week on ODF, Disability Issues
Authored by: AlefBet on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 03:28 PM EST
By the way, did you notice that Fonix is located in Utah? I know because they
are off-and-on sponsors of the lab I work for at BYU. It can sometimes be hard
to read Groklaw as a Utah resident because the focus is SCO which often provokes
anti-Utah sentiment. I just have to keep telling myself that Groklaw likes
Novell, which is also a Utah company. (Caldera, Novell, and WordPerfect all
came out of the Orem/Provo area, a college town around BYU.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Joint Statement on OpenSource & OpenDocuments in Massachusetts
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 04:23 PM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

What I have learned since I have become disabled
Authored by: Savannah on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 05:44 PM EST
Before I was diagnosed with MS a few years ago, I probably would have never
bothered to read this article. Now I cheer every effort made by 'mainstream'
and open source organizations (as opposed to shops specializing in software for
the disabled) software organisations to add those litte 'accesability'

In my case, I still have the ability to use the right side of my body, but I can
no longer use my left hand for typing. How many people here have tried a
CTRL-ALT-DEL with one hand?

Luckily for me, some invented 'sticky keys'!

I also sometime use a 'speech-to-text' product because my hand gets tired....As
well, I have learned to type with a "righ-handed-dvorak keyboard"
because I found that typing with one hand on a QWERTY seemed to stretch my
fingers too far....

I have been using various distributions of Linux since Slackware 3. And I am
always disappointed that a right-handed dvorak kbd is never available at
install, and that I often have to download extra packages to be able to full
using the os.

Anyway, perhaps many people here do not fully appreciate what this article
means, but it certainly means that more disabled people can now start using more
OpenSource software in general...

who still has to use windows and commercial software for any extensive

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's a chicken and egg problem.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 07:05 PM EST
If you're developing accessibility solutions for the computer, you're going to
use Windows because that's what everyone has. It may take a while before
developers see open source as a viable platform. When they do, though, they'll
find that it's a much friendlier place to work. Many/most people working on
accessibility issues (not just for computers) aren't trying to make a profit
from their work. Those people will thrive in the open source environment
because the tools they need are readily available.

I wonder what the record for re-inventing the wheel is wrt accessibility
software. Once they are free of the constraints of closed source software,
developers should be able to work a lot more efficiently because they won't
always be re-inventing the wheel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Possible incompatibility problems ...
Authored by: so23 on Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 10:25 PM EST

Trying to put an ORCA and a penguin together on a logo is just asking for
trouble. It just wouldn't be realistic, although an ORCA and half a penguin
might work. Poor TUX.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun's Schwartz on Why Free Standards Matter
Authored by: qu1j0t3 on Monday, March 20 2006 @ 12:47 AM EST
Blog entry, 9 March 2006:
Imagine you live on a sleepy street in a coastal town, say Rio de Janeiro. And a hurricane or tsunami hits your shores. And the government agency responsible for telling you how and where to get relief, for provisioning aid and emergency services, sends out a curious message: if you can't afford a copy of Microsoft Windows, we're sorry, we can't help you.

That's exactly what happened in New Orleans a few months back. Which led many folks to see the convergence of telecommunications, technology and media in a very personal, and dissatisfying way - while demonstrating the vanishing distinction between web services, social services and emergency services. The network is all about moving data around, whether purchase orders, tax forms or storm paths. ...

(emphasis mine)

I have a semicolon and I'm not afraid to use it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Conference This Week on ODF, Disability Issues
Authored by: bstone on Monday, March 20 2006 @ 03:24 AM EST
With any luck, the disabled community and the open source community will find
common interests and will be able to build solutions for a future that could not
exist without the efforts of both. Currently, MS trumpets their acccessability
functions, but it's a known fact that, as MS changes their underlying code and
formats, the interfaces have to be rebuilt every time. With true open standards
that take into account the input from all users, and maintenance of those
interfaces and formats, the ability to grow and enhance usability of systems for
the disabled, and for other users with special needs should be able to grow
without the constant need to rebuild just to keep from losing ground.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: AJWM on Monday, March 20 2006 @ 04:04 PM EST
Having grown up in the era where Digital Equipment Corp. was a big player in the
computer industry, and they had a penchant for naming things DECthis and
DECthat, I'm a bit amused that Sun is promoting this.

Anyone know if there is a DEC connection or it's just coincidence? (I couldn't
find any details behind the naming in my brief search of the Fonix web site.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • DECtalk - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 20 2006 @ 05:12 PM EST
    • DECtalk - Authored by: AJWM on Monday, March 20 2006 @ 11:38 PM EST
Not Disability Issues
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 12:24 PM EST
We need to stop thinking of these things as Disability Issues and consider what
the UI would look like if these things were well integrated and available to
everyone. Just look at the basic technologies involved. Speech synthesis,
dictation, sane handling of various input devices, less reliance on keyboards
for input, resolution independent display architectures (for zooming),
themeability for colorblindness, etc. All of these things are useful for
everyone and should be pushed that way for a broader support base.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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