[Accessibility] Interoperability Statement -- Current Draft (resent)

Janina Sajka janina at freestandards.org
Tue Aug 16 19:58:55 PDT 2005


Draft Draft Draft Draft
As of August 16

Statement On Desktop Accessibility Development
August 2005

We are members of the Gnome and KDE Accessibility Projects, and also of the
Free Standards Group's Accessibility Workgroup.  We have prepared this
statement in order to clarify the plans and intentions of our projects with
respect to interoperability and standardization. We believe this statement
accurately reflects the consensus viewpoint of the individual members of our

We wish to clarify our approach to the development of accessibility for the
GUI desktop environment. Most particularly we want to allay any concern that
our standardization efforts might be focused on any one particular toolkit or
desktop technology to the exclusion of other toolkits and desktops. This is
not so. On the contrary, we believe it is imperative to preserve choice and to
maximize available options for users.  To this end we are conciously and
intentionally developing an accessibility standard based on functional
performance criteria implemented in messaging protocols fully independent of
any particular toolkit or desktop technology.  We recognize that the assistive
technologies now in development for GNOME and KDE serve  different user needs.
We believe users who are persons with disabilities should be empowered to
choose technologies from any and all environments which provide accessibility
just as most other desktop users today routinely use a mix of technologies from
different desktop environments. Our goal is seamless interoperability rather
than duplication--which would be unnecessary and wasteful at best.

While some of the accessibility interfaces being discussed as candidates
for standardization within the FSG Workgroup, primarily AT-SPI,
originated in Gnome, we as a group are committed to toolkit-neutral
accessibility interface standards.  A key goal of our ongoing
standardization effort, which is inclusive rather than exclusive, is the
long-term interoperability of accessibility solutions for the free
desktop environment. The current KDE4 roadmap, for example, calls for
interoperability with existing Gnome assistive technologies, and vice
versa, using the AT-SPI bridge that is part of Qt4.  The Gnome team is
excited about this commitment and the willingness of the KDE developers
to integrate Gnome technologies in cases where they offer immediate
tangible benefits to users.

At the same time, we are actively working together to develop and implement a
strategy which will eliminate dependencies on any particular desktop, library,
or toolkit, including KDE accessibility on Gnome libraries, or vice versa.
The current plan of action, which was agreed to at a face-to-face meeting of
the Free Standards Group Accessibility Workgroup earlier this year, is to
standardize on a set of interfaces (most likely specified in IDL), and allow
for multiple conformant implementations as long as basic interoperability
requirements are met.  This will allow for increased technology sharing and
help "future-proof" our standardization efforts.


Janina Sajka				Phone: +1.202.494.7040
Partner, Capital Accessibility LLC	http://www.CapitalAccessibility.Com
Bringing the Owasys 22C screenless cell phone to the U.S. and Canada. Go to http://www.ScreenlessPhone.Com to learn more.

Chair, Accessibility Workgroup		Free Standards Group (FSG)
janina at freestandards.org		http://a11y.org

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