[Accessibility] Questions needing answers

Peter Korn Peter.Korn at Sun.COM
Wed Jan 14 19:50:22 PST 2004

Hi Doug,

> Here are a few questions that the press may ask about our group.
> Please let me know what you think some very succinct answers to
> them may be.

I'll take a stab at 'em.
> Q1. Why does it matter that Assistive Technologies be developed on an
> open source platform such as Linux? Can't AT solutions be brought to
> market using other programming languages or environments?

First, I'd not mention "other programming languages".  Linux isn't a
programming language.  Keep it as "other platforms or environments" I think.

A1. Choice is good.  Just as people without disabilities have a choice in which
computing platform they use, people with disabilities should also have that

A2. Many people are unable to afford the proprietary computing platforms (cf.
Brazil, China, South Africa, Nigeria - all of whose governments have made clear
statements about moving to Linux for affordability reasons).  Further, not only
is the platform open source, but (currently) all of the AT is open source as
well.  Just as $100 for XP and $300-500 for MS-Office is too much for much of
the world, $600-$1,300 for low-vision or blind access software is far too much
for many.  And even in the more affluent countries, budgets are tight (cf.

> Q2. How many developers are currently using Linux to make AT available
> to the broader community today?

A. See the LARS website for a collection of AT projects, each of which has
probably 1 to 5 key developers (and many others making smaller contributions).

> Q3. What examples of Linux based AT solutions are on the market today?

A. Gnopernicus and GOK are part of GNOME 2.4, which is released (what does "on
the market" mean?).  BrlTTY and many many others (see the LARS site) are also
available.  Also Dasher.

> Q4. What are the key challenges/barriers that developers face in the
> development of Assistive Technologies, unique to working on the Linux
> platform?

A. Primarily learning a new set of programming interfaces, tools, and learning
the open-source culture.  

> Q5. Is the Free Standards Group the only organization offering AT
> support to the community at this time?

A. I don't think the Free Standards Group is offering "support" (at least not
"tech support" in the customer service sense).  In other senses of the
word/phrase (as I guess it to mean), the Free Standards Group is NOT the only
one attempting to standards on AT issues, but it is the only one doing so for
open source AT issues.  


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