[Accessibility] 102 (a), revision to 'Statement of problem'

Bill Haneman bill.haneman at sun.com
Mon Sep 8 10:04:36 PDT 2003

I have a restatement of section (a), which attempts to reduce the
exclusiveness of our focus on assistive technologies.  I am not sure how
successful it is, but it at least alludes to techniques and utilities
(i.e. theming, keynav) which make the platform more inherently
accessible and thus may reduce the need for assistive technologies in
some cases.

[begin edits]

(a.) A general description of the current problem.

People with disabilities may be excluded from participating in the
benefits that technology provides because their needs are rarely
included in the software design process, and there is a lack of
appropriate technological accommodation. Despite information
technology's inherent lack of physical barriers, desktop software is
rarely designed with a view to accommodating the needs and capabilities
of a wide range of users.  Needless assumptions are made about the
user's visual or auditory capabilities, their dexterity, or their
mobility; in this way access to information technology is made
unnecessarily difficult.  Certain straightforward and proven techniques
and utilities (for instance providing keyboard access to all features,
and conformance with user-specified colors, fonts, and text sizes) can
greatly extend the usability of software and systems to a wider range of

Furthermore, it has been proven that properly designed assistive

[end edits]

technologies (AT) are capable of delivering unparalleled benefits to
disabled users who usually have no other viable alternative. Assistive
technologies can:


      provide the means for individuals, who do not have the use of
their arms and hands, to write and correspond. Often user interfaces
programmatically prevent these users from performing important tasks by
not providing mouse and keyboard alternatives.

      enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired to read
online text. Often user interfaces programmatically prevent or severely
encumber the users ability to read and traverse the screen by supporting
only iconic and mouse driven user interfaces.

Support participation by individuals who can't speak or hear on today's
telephony interfaces and tomorrow's multimodal computer interfaces.

Many needless barriers can be eliminated on the entry level by
programmatically providing the appropriate contextual information to
both the application and system services via well-defined standards of
practice and adherence to those standards.

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