[Accessibility] PROPOSAL: Accessible Document

Bill Haneman Bill.Haneman at Sun.COM
Wed Apr 27 08:54:35 PDT 2005


If you have not already done so, I encourage you to familiarize yourself 
with at-spi.

It already seeks to provide a uniform, platform-independent framework 
for doing what you propose.  It includes mechanisms for providing richer 
semantic information, provides notifications of document changes, both 
to content and stylistically.  It is already a cross-platform API and 
uses the only standard cross-platform, network-transparent protocol rich 
enough to express the object-oriented information required (CORBA).    
On the GNOME platform it includes powerful performance enhancements 
which offer more than an order of magnitude over standard CORBA wire 
transport, so it aggressively tackles performance considerations as 
well.  It is also a highly extensible API.

The PyORBit interfaces provided with GNOME provide a powerful mechanism 
for scripting, as demonstrated by the orca project; the relevant 
libraries are already in the process of being ported to Windows.

I agree that gap analysis is always a good exercise - in my opinion we 
should do this in the context of extending and enhancing at-spi.



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:
>Accessibility mailing list
>Accessibility at mail.freestandards.org

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