[Accessibility] Press Release Issued Today

Janina Sajka janina at rednote.net
Wed Jan 21 04:35:50 PST 2004

Janina Sajka
Email: janina at rednote.net		
Phone: +1 (202) 408-8175

Director, Technology Research and Development
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Chair, Accessibility Work Group
Free Standards Group
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Workgroup Chartered to Make Linux more Accessible to People with Disabilities

OAKLAND, California. -- Jan. 21, 2004 - Today, the Free Standards Group
announced a new workgroup dedicated to establishing standards that
will make Linux and Linux-based applications accessible to persons
with disabilities. The Accessibility Workgroup of the Free Standards
Group will make it easier for developers to support assistive
technologies (AT). Assistive technologies enable individuals who are
blind or visually impaired to read online text, and provide the means
for individuals who do not have the use of their arms and hands to
write and correspond. AT also enable individuals who cannot speak or
hear to participate on the telephony interfaces of today -- and will
support their participation on the multimodal computer interfaces of

"Standards are the key to making technology accessible to everyone,
and coordinated industry support is essential to making standards
truly universal" said Carl Augusto, President of the American
Foundation for the Blind. "We plan to work with developers and vendors
throughout the Linux community to make the Linux desktop accessible to
all users and bring it into compliance with laws like Section 508. As
a result, usability will improve for all end users and we expect
businesses to benefit significantly as well."

The Free Standards Group Accessibility Workgroup includes experts on
accessibility issues -- representatives of major organizations such as
the American Foundation for the Blind, Georgia Institute of Technology
Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, the Computer
Braille Facility of University of Western Ontario and the Archimedes
Project at Stanford's Center for the Study of Language and
Information. In addition, the Accessibility Workgroup includes
developers of graphical user interface (GUI) desktop environments for
Linux such as GNOME and KDE, and Linux developers from Red Hat,
Debian, SuSE, IBM, Sun, HP and TrollTech.

"It is essential to make greater accessibility for all users a high
priority," stated Patricia C. Sueltz, executive vice president of Sun
Microsystems' services group, and recipient of the Helen Keller
Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind. "We are
delighted that the Free Standards Group has organized an
international, industry-wide effort to provide standards based on the
open-source accessibility technology effort led by Sun to promote this

First-year goals for the Free Standards Group Accessibility Workgroup
include the adoption of the Assistive Technology Service Provider
Interface (AT-SPI), which enables AT tools such as screen readers and
magnifiers to query and interact with GUI controls consistently; the
development of shared input/output (I/O) for AT devices, to make it
possible for devices such as Braille readers and speech synthesizers
to operate smoothly with several client applications simultaneously;
and the standardization of keyboard accessibility for persons unable
to use a keyboard or mouse, incorporating features such as "Sticky
Keys" which enable users to press key combinations in sequence rather
than requiring users to hold them down simultaneously.

Further information on the Accessibility Workgroup of the Free
Standards Group is available at http://www.a11y.org/

About the Free Standards Group

The Free Standards Group is an independent nonprofit organization
dedicated to accelerating the use and acceptance of free and open
source software by developing and promoting standards. Key Free
Standards Group projects include the Linux Standard Base (LSB),
OpenI18N, LANANA and the new Accessibility Workgroup. Supported by
leaders in the IT industry as well as the open source development
community, the Free Standards Group fulfills a critical need to have
common behavioral specifications, tools and ABIs across Linux
platforms. More information on the Free Standards Group is available
at www.freestandards.org.
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