[Accessibility] NSF Proposal Draft #3

Doug Beattie dbb at linkexplorer.com
Tue Dec 9 12:35:53 PST 2003


I like the wording.

I found two very minor spelling errors was all.

Change: "Converence room" to "Conference room" and
        "before]" to "before"

That's all.

Now if we can come up with a cost that would get things moving along for


On Tue, Dec 09, 2003 at 02:47:24PM -0500, Janina Sajka wrote:
> Executive Summary
> The Accessibility Workgroup of the Free Standards Group (FSG) requests
> funding of [$xx,xxx] from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene a
> face-to-face meeting of invited experts to develop an engineering agenda for
> the development and adoption of standards that will support comprehensive
> access to information and user interfaces for persons with disabilities on
> computing platforms which adopt FSG standards (such as Linux and Solaris).
> In addition to a consensus on accessibility standardization, this agenda is
> expected to promote future collabrative research that should provide
> multiple, interoperable, hetro- genious accessibility products.
> The beneficiaries of the accessibility standardization activity which will
> be set in motion by this meeting are numerous, cutting across all sectors
> engaged with either providing or using technology and include:
>  * Implementations of free standards such as GNOME, KDE, and GNU software
>  * Vendors of Unix and Linux such as Red Hat Inc., Sun Micro Systems,
>    United Linux, among others.
>  * Vendors of hand-held devices, consumer and business products using
>    embedded technologies, as well as those providing large industrial
>    systems such as Hewlett-Packard Corporation, IBM Corporation, and
>    Motorola Corporation, among others.
> Both individual consumers and institutional ones such as governmental
> agencies and educational institutions, many of which are now legally
> required to support accessibility.
> The principle beneficiaries of FSG Accessibility Standards will, of course,
> be persons with disabilities worldwide. They are the reason for these
> standards. However, it is also important to note that these benefits will be
> available world-wide in developing and developed nations alike because cost
> will never be a barrier to anyone's participation, either as an end user or
> as a technical contributor.
> In order to achieve the substantial consensus needed by such standards we
> expect to invite between 20 and 30 individuals from industry, developer
> communities, and persons with disabilities. We need to insure broad
> participation across all sectors of these groups worldwide, and we need,
> particularly, to engage participants who would otherwise not become involved
> in this process. We request, therefore, funds to cover:
> 1.)	Travel and accomodation support for between 12-18 individuals;
> 2.)	Converence room, equipment, support staff, and meals
> 3.)	Organizational and advance expenses
> About Us
> Best known today for the industry supported Linux Standards Base (LSB), the
> mission of the Free Standards Group (FSG), a standards body recognized by
> The Joint Technical Committee 1 (http://www.jtc1.org), is published at the
> FSG's web site, http://www.freestandards.org, and says:
>    The Free Standards Group develops and makes freely available
>    standards, tools and compliance testing, which allows open source as well
>    as commercial developers to concentrate on adding value to Linux, rather
>    than spending time dealing with verification and porting issues.
>    As the umbrella group for several open source standards efforts, the
>    Free Standards Group acts as a key facilitator between the needs of the
>    free and open source development community from which it came and the IT
>    industry that increasingly relies on Linux as a solutions platform.
> The Accessibility Workgroup within the FSG was approved by the FSG Board of
> Directors in September 2003 with a mission to:
>    develop and promote free and open accessibility standards to enable
>    comprehensive universal access to computer systems, applications, and
>    services.
> The Accessibility WG will provide written specifications, as well as
> references to current specifications and standards, as discussed in its
> Charter (available at
> http://www.a11y.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=20). It will
> also develop and provide test suites to be used in a certification process.
> Why Accessibility Standards Are Needed
> The heterogeneous nature of toolkits, component inter process communication
> models, libraries, and applications on free and open source platforms has
> made the development of robust and effective assistive technologies
> difficult, at best. Without standards and binary interface components:
>  * Users with various disabilities can not effectively use the system.
>  * systems do not meet legal requirements (which hampers marketing of
>    free standards based systems).
>  * developers cannot consistently write accessible applications.
>  * comprehensive and consistent platform services that support
>    accessibility do not exist.
>  * assistive technology developers cannot create assistive technologies
>    for free standards platforms.
>  * the lack of standardization prevents leveraging the existing work,
>    sharing of expertise, and reduces the value of individual contributions.
> Why an International Conference is Needed
> Of course achieving standardization for accessibility support in the free
> and open source environment will require substantial consensus among
> developer communities, marketers of free and open source technologies, and
> user communities. The purpose of the proposed international conference,
> therefore, is to achieve this substantial consensus regarding the
> Workgroup's Year One identified standardization activities, and to devise
> an engineering consensus regarding Year Two and Three tasks, including
> particularly those requiring additional research and development before]
> standardization may properly occur.
> Year One standardization activities of the Accessibility WG are described in
> the Appendix to this request. Future standardization activities already
> identified within the WG include improving support for magnification in
> console and Xwindow environments, and providing a standard mechanism
> supporting numerous Text To Speech (TTS) voices in numumerous languages, yet
> providing a single, consistant interface to applications
> Appendix
> The identified Year One tasks which require substantial international
> consensus are:
> 1.) AT-SPI
> The Assistive Technology Service Provider Interface (AT-SPI) was
>  developed for the GNOME2 desktop and its approach to providing
>  accessibility is in the process of being adopted by KDE.
> AT-SPI is toolkit-neutral. It is already compatible with and supported by 
>  GTK+2, Java/Swing, the Mozilla suite, and StarOffice/OpenOffice. Support
>  via reuse of the related ATK interface in version 4 of the Qt toolkit (on
>  which KDE is based) has been announced by TrollTech.
> AT-SPI enables assistive technology tools, e.g. screen readers,
>  magnifiers, and even scripting interfaces to query and interact with
>  graphical user interface (GUI) controls." As such it facilitates access
>  for individuals who cannot use the standard GUI. It enables developers
>  (or a third party) to build applications that are, or can be made
>  accessible.
> The AT-SPI enables developers and distributions to meet the accessibility 
>  requirements of many individual and corporate customers.
> 2.) AT Device Shared I/O
> AT device shared I/O would make it possible for devices that are
>  commonly used by persons with disabilities to operate smoothly with
>  several client applications simultaneously.
> In some circumstances it is necessary to support simultaneous access for
>  different client applications. For example, allowing a software-based
>  speech synthesizer to speak while a multi-media stream is playing, rather
>  than queueing its messages to play after the stream concludes. In
>  addition, it may also be necessary to have messages queue or supress
>  until a particular window or console has focus. This activity supports a
>  seamless user experience from bootup, in the console and desktop
>  environments, and through shutdown.
> We will support/coordinate the development of libraries that allow client 
>  applications to share these I/O devices. Shared access to accessibility
>  related devices, such as Braille displays, reduces the cost of ownership
>  and improves the user experience.  These libraries should offer a generic
>  high-level abstraction of the underlying device to allow client
>  applications, to use those libraries independent of the actual hardware
>  in use. This simplifies the development of accessibility related software
>  by sharing commonly used code such as low-level driver implementations in
>  these libraries.
> 3.) Keyboard Accessibility
> Persons unable to use a keyboard and mouse sometimes use alternative
>  devices. However, many users can be accomodated programatically through
>  software that causes a standard keyboard to behave differently. Many of
>  these features and behaviors have long been available in the XKB
>  specification available at
> http://ftp.x.org/pub/R6.4/xc/doc/specs/XKB/XKBlib/allchaps.ps.
> "Sticky Keys" is one keyboard accessibility feature provided in the XKB
>  specification. It supports users who cannot press key combinations. For
>  example, the user is unable to press the Ctrl-Alt-TAB keys
>  simultaneously, Sticky keys allows them to achieve the same result by
>  pressing the keys sequentially.
> Individuals with mobility impairments will benefit by having such
>  features built-in and available through standard activation strategies,
>  such as tapping the Shift key five times to activate Sticky Keys. The
>  routines provided by the API will also benefit assistive technologies
>  such as on screen keyboard and screen reader applications.
> We propose to identify and adopt a subset of the XKB specification in
>  order to provide standard keyboard features and behaviors required by
>  persons with mobility impairments.
> -- 
> Janina Sajka
> Email: janina at rednote.net		
> Phone: (202) 408-8175
> Director, Technology Research and Development
> American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
> http://www.afb.org
> Chair, Accessibility Work Group
> Free Standards Group
> http://accessibility.freestandards.org
> _______________________________________________
> Accessibility mailing list
> Accessibility at freestandards.org
> http://www.freestandards.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/accessibility

Doug Beattie
dbb at linkexplorer.com

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