The Open A11y Workgroup at the Linux Foundation works to develop free and open standards supporting comprehensive access to information and user interfaces for persons with disabilities. Our standards process is open to interested members of industry, developer, and consumer communities. Obtaining public comment on our proposed standards before they are finalized is one of the most important steps in our process. Public review helps ensure our standards are relevant and complete.
We are now requesting comment on the following specification produced by our IAccessible2 team. This specification is expected to become a Linux Foundation standard this year.
IAccessible2 is a set of Windows accessibility interface definitions which complements Microsoft's earlier work on MSAA. The IAccessible2 interfaces fill critical accessibility gaps in the MSAA offering. IAccessible2 is an engineered accessibility interface allowing application developers to leverage their investment in MSAA while also providing an Assistive Technology (AT) access to content in rich document applications and web browsers. The additional function includes support for rich text, tables, spreadsheets, Web 2.0 applications, and other rich content often found in large, complex applications.
IAccessible2 is implemented by application developers to allow Assistive Technology, such as a screen reader used by someone who is blind, access to an application's components, e.g. a table in a word processor. IAccessible2 has been implemented in applications such as IBM Lotus Symphony and Mozilla Firefox 3. It has also been implemented in the leading Windows screen readers, e.g. JAWS from Freedom Scientific and Window-Eyes from GW Micro.
Developers of complex applications benefit because they can provide accessibility to complex components well beyond what is possible with MSAA. Application developers also benefit because screen readers already support applications that implement IAccessible2. IAccessible2 was a joint effort with the leading AT vendors. These vendors saw the need for an enhancement to MSAA and worked closely with IBM accessibility architects and engineers during the definition and implementation of the API.
Users benefit because they have full access to complex applications such spread sheets in IBM Lotus Symphony and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) in Firefox 3.
It is also important to note that IAccessible2 has been harmonized with the UNIX accessibility APIs to allow for efficient multi-platform development. This was done through close collaboration with accessibility architects who have intimate knowledge of the UNIX accessibility APIs.
For more information please visit the IAccessible2 web site at:
You may respond through Bugzilla using the URI below, or you may send email to accessibility-rfc<at>a11y.org, a publicly archived emailing list. Bugzilla is our preferred method for receiving feedback because it automatically logs your feedback in our tracking system without additional human intervention. If possible, only use the email method if you have difficulty using Bugzilla. When using Bugzilla be sure to select IAccessible2 from the list of components.
Please provide your comments on these draft specifications no later than midnight, 24:00 UTC, Monday, June 30, 2008.
Please feel free to forward this announcement wherever you deem appropriate.
On behalf of Open A11y, and especially the IAccessible2 team, we thank you for your assistance.
Pete Brunet: IAccessible2 Team Chair
Janina Sajka: Chair, Open A11y Chair