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Minutes of the Open A11y Expert Handlers Conference Call 2007/09/17


  • Neil Soiffer (NS/chair)
  • Janina Sajka (JS)
  • Gregory J. Rosmaita (GJR/scribe)
  • Shawn Djernes (SD/Shawn) (Nebraska Commission for the Blind)
  • Pete Brunet (PB)
  • Vladamir Bulatov (VB/V)
    • regrets: none logged

Agenda Review

Minutes for 2007/09/17 Expert Handlers Conference Call

Topic 1: Mission Statement Approval?

For Reference: Mission Statement (Draft 5)

NS: any feedback?

JS: re-read while preparing CSUN proposal -- very happy with it

Shawn: spelling nit: "tactilly" or "tactilely"?

PB: Mirriam-Webster has an e between 2 "ells"

GJR: that's usually how i find it spelt in technical materials

conflict of spelling in online and offline dictionaries -- need to check OED

JS: concerned that when we point to an external resource, we point with confidence -- MusicalML smooshy, no real standards, just competing standards

VB: what about SVG?

NS: no real semantics in current usage; doesn't meet needs

GJR: would need SVG plus ARIA

NS: there is CellML -- markup language to describe biological, bio-chemical and chemical markup; mainly used for modeling cellular behavior -- is that too abstract?

VB: people will understand musical markup

NS: that's why i chose music, because underlying concepts and assumptions simpler; according to Wikipedia -- MusicXML supported by 80 applications -- and there's a link to a specification at, so it does have some legitimacy

VB: let's leave it; music easily comprehended by wide audience

GJR: Vladmir's right; musical vocabulary standardized, handy for breaking down items into component parts that people can understand (bar, measure, note, etc.)

JS: ok

PROPOSED: make this our mission statement

NS: any objections?

no objections

RESOLVED: Adopt Draft 5 of the Mission Statement as Expert Handlers SIG Mission Statement

Topic 2: CSUN 2008 Expert Handlers Panel Proposal

For Reference: CSUN 2008 Planning

JS: posted to list -- apologize for short turn-around time

GJR: so we can work on it in real-time, the first draft of JS' CSUN proposal can be found at:

NS: CSUN has posted abstracts online in the past, however there have been significant technological problems last 2 years

JS: maybe need a URI that we are in controll over as a fail-safe?

NS: never actually asked for a paper after a talk -- only mount abstracts

JS: one thing that is missing -- reference that we've looked at all these use cases

verbiage added to draft 1 in real-time during meeting


  • Proposal Title: Expert Markup Handlers for AT: A Proposal From Open A11y
  • Proposal Abstract:
    • This Open A11y panel will discuss, and gather additional requirements for its proposed interface specification to facilitate plugins to AT for enhanced knowledge domain accessibility.
  • Session Level: Advanced
  • Track: Other
  • Length: 60 Minute session

Proposed Prose

Generalized content markup (such as HTML) is complimented by markup specifications that facilitate more semantically precise content markup. Examples of specialized, semantically precise markup 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.

The Open A11y Expert Handlers SIG is exploring a standardized plug-in mechanism to AT software. The goal of this plug-in standard is to allow AT software to take advantage of expert software that understands specialized markup. This plug-in standard will allow the expert software to provide enhanced, semantically rich access to specialized markup so that the AT can properly render (visually, aurally, and/or tactilely) and help users navigate the semantic meaning encoded in the specialized markup.

The Open A11y Expert Handlers SIG has gathered use cases and developed requirements for proposed plugin specifications for:

  • Braille
  • Speech
  • Magnification
  • Navagability

In this session the panel will explain its work to date and invite comments on its work from the audience.

(Note: Janina will re-work/expand last paragraph and post it to the handlers list after finalizes main A11y CSUN 2008 Proposal; please notify Janina during the day, Wednesday, 20 September 2007, to confirm whether or not you will be able to attend as a panelist)

Topic 3: Attendance at CSUN 2008

NS: who will be at CSUN 2008?

V: currently not funded for participation; will tell i want to go again

  • Janina
  • Neil
  • Vladmir (possible; proposals may help get funding)
  • Shawn (possible; proposals may help get funding)
  • GJR (possible; if LF willing)
  • Pete (working on getting there; proposals definitely help)

Shawn: need to get funding

NS: can everyone let Janina know by the end of business Wednesday? -- submission due 21 September 2007!

NS: A11y has no official existence outside of linux foundation?

JS: a workgroup of the Linux Foundation

PB: ask LF for funding for GJR

JS: will make inquiries

GJR: thanks pete!

JS: will work on main a11y proposal tonight so out before tomorrow's call

JS: should ask Rich what is going on with OpenOffice?

JS: couple of procedural things -- 60 not 30 minutes; panel; equipment: none; categorization?

GJR: cross-disability and cross-platform and cross-discipline equals "other"

JS: do we need to add input to the list of use cases?

V: may not pertain to all cases

Shawn: speech input important case

GJR: speech input a key component of my question about ISV (international scientific vocabulary) -- is it used, and can it be used for bi-directional communication of specialized knowledge dialects?

JS: GOK - Gnome Onscreen Keyboard (consult ATRC at University of Toronto)

Topic 4: Items for 2007/09/24 Call

NS: add input handlers to next week's agenda

GJR: tried to address in navigation -- bi-directional gestures, whether input or output irrelevant