[Accessibility] Re: [voicexml-accessibility] Accessibility Committee

Janina Sajka janina at freestandards.org
Tue Apr 18 09:07:49 PDT 2006

The Free Standards Group Accessibility WG has recently hosted an ad hoc
group of developers seeking to define the accessibility requirements for
an API to TTS engines. We have a spec document well along, so I'nm very
interested in the IETF effort mentioned in your email below.

It seems to me we should discuss our requirements with the IETF people.
Can you help us connect with them?


Ferrans James-JFERRAN1 writes:
> Hi Jer,
> I'm very encouraged by all the excitement and interest, especially from
> people who've not had a chance to participate yet!
> I don't think the Technical Council has any specific directions for
> Accessibility, and we're even more vague on AC's goals than you guys
> are! ;-)   Right from the start, when we received the suggestion to form
> Accessibility in late 2004, we felt this work was so important that as
> long as a critical mass of members and invited experts wanted to pursue
> work in accessibility, we'd back them wherever they wanted to go, even
> if it was far afield from VoiceXML.  
> So it seems that AC needs to circle back to the purpose and goals
> discussion again.
> One growing realization in the Forum is that the speech industry has an
> academic/research organization (AVIOS), but it really doesn't have an
> industry association yet.  Outsiders have suggested to us that we
> consider becoming such an association.  We'd still work in VoiceXML
> specific areas, but also grow to include other, more general efforts.
> If we take this view, then Accessibility really is the first such
> expansion away from VoiceXML, while the new MRCP Committee is a more
> recent example (they are working on issues surrounding the IETF's new
> MRCP API standard for interfacing with speech engines).  So in your
> discussions feel free to look for *any* area where the speech industry
> as a whole is not addressing aspects of accessibility.  Some VoiceXML
> angles would be great, such as a VoiceXML-oriented guide to creating
> fully accessible applications for TDD use and for visual browser
> plug-ins.  But don't feel bound by the term "VoiceXML".
> Let us know how we can help,
> Jim
> ________________________________
> From: Jerome Jahnke [mailto:jahnke at tormenta.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 12:03 AM
> To: Ferrans James-JFERRAN1
> Cc: voicexml-accessibility at voicexml.org; tech-council at voicexml.org
> Subject: Re: [voicexml-accessibility] Accessibility Committee
> Hey Jim, 
> I think two factors have contributed to us not getting much done in the
> Accessibility Forum. The first is procedural, and it had to dow with our
> Friday Morning Meeting times. To be honest not many folks could come as
> we all were either working hard to finish our week off, or were quite
> frequently short staffed due to travel and vacation, and other holidays.
> When we start again the first order of business which we can do via
> email, should be to choose an appropriate meeting time (and frequency.)
> The second problem was more one of us not knowing exactly what is the
> best thing for us to do. What is the Technical Council looking for in
> terms of direction? Working on aspects of the language is quite simple
> compared to this (for me at least.) Are specific technical
> recommendations in order? Or just a list of "issues" that disabled
> people might have, or might use VoiceXML to alleviate? I think the
> overarching mission never was well understood. Groups like ATIS already
> do a lot of work with accessibility in terms of making the issues
> disabled people have known, and while it would be easy to repackage what
> they do would it be the best use of our time?
> Before we start meeting again I think a conversation about what we could
> do, and more importantly how whatever we do would be consumed by the
> Technical Council would be a good idea to really make sure we have the
> right people engaged and ready to go. We had a meeting with Jim Larsen
> late last year who talked about KeyStone Projects. These would projects
> where we find someone to fund some students to show how to use VoiceXML
> either to solve a problem, or solve a unique problem found while using
> VoiceXML. This seemed like a good idea, however I don't think anyone who
> was involved with the forum at the time could imagine how we could
> accomplish such a task. We had talked about putting together documents
> to describe the various accessibility issues, but to me it seemed like
> we were recreating the work that had been done by ATIS and as such I
> wasn't sure how useful it was.
> Finally when it came to specific technical recommendations I don't know
> we have the right people on the committee (or even if we should be
> making such recommendations.) Should our purview be to find people who
> primarily deal with accessibility issues and get them to use VoiceXML to
> show us where the pinch points are? Or should we have technical folks
> and accessibility folks talking, and from there have the technical
> people just become aware of the issues that people face? This is pretty
> much where we ran out of steam, more than anything else. We weren't sure
> how to proceed or even what we could do that would be useful and we
> kinda gave up. I would like to get up and running again, but until
> someone has a clear vision of where we need to go I am not sure it would
> be all that productive.
> As such I am more than willing to accept any ideas people have on these
> topics. I think once I have a vision I can help get us there, but right
> now I don't even know where we should end up which is causing some
> problems for us in the "getting going" department. If talking about this
> over email isn't effective I am more than willing to open up a
> bridge-line at some point this week (or next) to talk specifically about
> this because I am stumped.
> Jer,
> Chair of the VoiceXML Accessibility Committee
> On Apr 14, 2006, at 3:18 PM, Ferrans James-JFERRAN1 wrote:
> 	Hi Everyone,
> 	This committee became fairly dormant after some nasty real-world
> deadlines intruded a few months ago.  How do you guys feel about moving
> forward?  Is there still a need for this work to continue in the Forum,
> or are other venues perhaps better places for it?  If we continue the
> work in the Forum, how should we proceed?   Would you like some help
> from the Technical Council and others in the Forum?
> 	Best regards,
> 	Jim Ferrans
> 	847.576.1379


Janina Sajka				Phone: +1.240.715.1272
Partner, Capital Accessibility LLC	http://www.CapitalAccessibility.Com

Marketing the Owasys 22C talking screenless cell phone in 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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