First chartered in 2004 as the Linux Foundation Accessibility Workgroup (LFA), the Open Accessibility (A11y) Group functions today within the Linux Foundation to establish free and open standards that enable comprehensive universal access to various computing platforms, applications, and services. Open A11y exists to make it easier for developers, ISVs, and distributions to support assistive technologies (AT). Assistive technologies enable individuals to make full use of computer-based technology despite variability in physical or sensory abilities due to illness, aging or disability.
Our standards and works in progress can be found on line at: http://a11y.org.
New standards from Open A11y completed and adopted during the past year include:
Interface (AT-SPI) is the industry consensus, toolkit-neutral interface between
applications and assistive technologies. It enables assistive technology
tools, e.g. screen readers, magnifiers, and even scripting interfaces to query
and interact with graphical user interface (GUI) controls. As such it
facilitates access for individuals who cannot use the standard GUI. It enables developers (or a third party) to build applications that are, or can be made accessible.
devices. However, many users can be accommodated programatically through
software that causes a standard keyboard to behave differently. Among the most mature of accessibility accommodations commonly available on computing platforms, many of these features and behaviors have long been available in the XKB specification, available at:
Open A11y has standardized on a subset of the XKB specification in order to provide standard keyboard features and behaviors required by persons with mobility impairments in Linux and Unix distributions through two standards specification documents:
* Keyboard Access Functional Specification
built-in and available through standard activation strategies, such as tapping
the Shift key five times to activate Sticky Keys. The routines provided by the
API will also benefit assistive technologies such as on screen keyboard and
screen reader applications.
(Microsoft Active Accessibility) API to address gaps on Windows computers that
have been addressed by later generation accessibility APIs. IAccessible2 was
modeled after the OpenOffice accessibility API called the UNO Accessibility
API aka UAAPI. The OpenOffice UAAPI and GNOME ATK/AT-SPI are, in turn, both
modeled on the Java Accessibility API which IBM and Sun jointly defined.
the ATK/AT-SPI API. This harmonization is proving to be very helpful as
advanced accessibility features are added to Firefox 3 which will provide
accessibility on both the Linux and Windows platforms. This newest Open A11y accessibility standard will further help developers create cross-platform applications by reducing the need for platform specific customization.
Examples include MathML and MusicXML. Assistive technology (AT) typically
handles generalized content markup, but does not know about specialized
markup. Because of this, users of AT are unable to access or navigate specialized markup effectively.