[Accessibility] PROPOSAL: Accessible Document

Peter Korn Peter.Korn at Sun.COM
Wed Apr 20 16:51:03 PDT 2005

Hi Catherine,

To echo what Bill Haneman said - AccessibleDocument is something we've thought 
about for a while for AT-SPI.  An effort to create a cross-platform 
AccessibleDocument for Windows and Linux (and perhaps Macintosh?) is a noble 
goal, but I fear it is tilting at windmills and will suck a lot of time to no 
useful end.  All attempts previously to reach convergence with Apple and/or 
Microsoft and the UNIX accessibility work in AT-SPI have failed.

I think a gap analysis is a useful thing to do - especially to understand 
whether and how AccessibleDocument should look as compared to a container of 
text and other things (see Mozilla, StarOffice Writer, etc. implementations of 
ATK/AT-SPI right now).

It isn't clear to me that the FSG is the appropriate place for this.  As I 
understand it, FSG's charter is to adopt existing standards, not create new 
ones.  As I said, a gap analysis seems to me a very appropriate undertaking, 
and feeding that back into the GNOME Accessibility Project the next logical 
step (doing so publically on <gnome-accessibility-devel at gnome.org>).


Peter Korn
Sun Accessibility team

Catherine Laws wrote:
> Using today's accessibility APIs, developers of assistive technologies face
> difficult challenges trying to implement logical navigation of the content
> and structures of complex documents for users with vision, learning,
> physical, and cognitive impairments.  Some of the challenges include:
> - Lack of rich semantic information to identify different document object
> types (text, dynamic, embedded, enabled, etc) and document structure
> - Performance issues when navigating large documents and structures and
> when running out of process
> - Missing dynamic document changes
> - Different cross-platform APIs (MSAA on Windows versus AT-SPI on
> Linux/Gnome) and application APIs (COM and DOM interfaces in Windows) for
> accessing similar documents (word processing, Web pages and applications,
> spreadsheets, PDF, presentation, etc) and similar applications (Microsoft
> Office, OpenOffice, Adobe Reader, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, etc)
> - Extensibility and scriptability of the APIs
> To address these challenges, I propose the formation of a new FSG
> Accessibility sub-workgroup, named the Accessible Document Workgroup, which
> would initially adopt the following goals:
> -  Create and propose a standard cross-platform, cross-document
> accessibility API extension for navigating all content and structure and
> for handling events and changes in complex documents.
> - Include new techniques for handling performance issues
> - Provide for extensibility and scriptability
> An initial activity will be to create a "gap analysis" chart that
> categorizes and compares all the different accessibility APIs and other
> APIs used by assistive technologies on different platforms today to access
> document content and structure information (including AT-SPI and ATK,
> Microsoft's MSAA and UI Automation, various Document Object Models, IBM
> Home Page Reader Web Access Technology (WAT), and others). Then the group
> will start drafting an API recommendation for extending accessibility APIs
> (AT-SPI and potentially MSAA/UI Automation and others) to provide a richer
> accessible document interface that addresses performance and semantic
> information issues when navigating today's complex documents. Also, the
> workgroup will draft a style guide which will recommend navigation key
> sequences, shortcut keys, user interface components, and highlighting that
> assistive technologies should provide for navigating and obtaining
> information about complex documents.
> If we were a subgroup, then we could have an FSG mailing list, post
> recommendations and documents to share on the freestandards.org site, and
> hold regular teleconferences to openly discuss accessible document
> proposals.  Any architects and developers involved in creating,
> implementing, or accessing accessible interfaces for documents who want to
> participate in this working group should contact Cathy Laws
> (claws at us.ibm.com).
> Cathy Laws
> IBM Accessibility Center, WW Strategic Platform Enablement
> 11501 Burnet Road,  Bldg 904 Office 5F017, Austin, Texas 78758
> Phone: (512) 838-4595, FAX: (512) 838-9367, E-mail: claws at us.ibm.com, Web:
> http://www.ibm.com/able
> _______________________________________________
> Accessibility mailing list
> Accessibility at mail.freestandards.org
> http://mail.freestandards.org/mailman/listinfo/accessibility

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