[Accessibility] FAQs for the Web site

Bill Haneman Bill.Haneman at Sun.COM
Wed Oct 15 09:42:34 PDT 2003

Hi Sharon:

Thanks for these suggestions.  I like your answer to #1, though one
might want to include mention of how following other (toolkit-specific)
programming guidelines can ensure that support for 'assistive
technologies' is enabled for those applications.  So we need a
definition of 'assistive technologies' as well.

(more comments below)
> 1. What  does the term  "accessible application development" mean?
>  It means developing software that can be used by as many people as
>  possible, including individuals with disabilities. By following simple
>  criteria in software design, such as the provision of keyboard navigation
>  and adherence to user-specified system appearance settings you can reduce
>  or eliminate barriers for many users, including users who may not identify
>  themselves as 'disabled'.
>  2. How do I know the guidelines to follow?
>  Guidelines are available through several different sources and may vary
>  depending upon the application programming language or Web site being
>  developed. Information on guidelines and Section 508 compliance can be
>  found at http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm. Also, see the Additional
>  Resource links for more information.
Rather than 'depending upon the application programming language or Web
site being developed' (wording which I find a bit confusing and possibly
misleading), perhaps we could say 'the specific guidelines which are
appropriate may depend on the application development environment being
used and targeted'.  I think a pointer to the GNOME accessibility guide
for developers might be among the useful links here, if in fact we want
to provide example links.  Is mention of 508 (and only 508) too
#3 looks good.

>  4. Are there any automated tools available for testing accessibility?
For web sites, yes; but I don't think this is our focus so I would not
necessarily include such tools on our site.  For applications, the
answer is 'yes' but only for Java applications at this time.

This strikes me as an unsatisfactory answer, do we want to draw
attention to this in our initial FAQ?  I'm not so sure we do.

>  5. Does it make a difference which software development tools I use?

Yes; but what is the issue we actually want to help solve via this
question?  We can say that for the moment on Linux/Unix and LSB
platforms, applications using the GTK+-2 and GNOME 2 toolkits, or the
Java/Swing toolkits (versions 1.3 and above), have built-in
accessibility and assistive technology support.  We can call attention
to the fact that KDE and Qt have this on the roadmap but as of this time
do not have built-in support for assistive technologies.  We might say
that in theory any application programming language or toolkit can
interoperate with the existing AT-SPI interfaces but do not feature
preexisting support for the existing Linux/Unix assistive technology
>  6. Are some programming languages more accessible then others?

In theory no; I think the answer to #5 would be more helpful than
delving into this topic; the programming language should make no
difference _provided_ the language can be used with one of the above
development toolkits (that would include C, Java, C++, perl, python, and
probably many other languages that have gtk+ bindings of some sort).

- Bill

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