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Open A11y Working Group Conference Call: 4 March 2008


  • Janina Sajka, chair Open A11y (JS/meeting chair)
    • Stew Benedict, Linux Foundation/LSB Workgroup (SB)
    • Pete Brunet, IBM (PB)
    • Mick Curran, NVDA Project (MC)
    • Calvin Gainsford, Novell (CG)
    • Earl Johnson, Sun Microsystems (EJ)
    • Andrew Kirkpatrick, Adobe (AK)
    • Gregory J. Rosmaita, vice-chair Open A11y (GJR/scribe)
    • Laura Ruby, Microsoft (LR)
    • Gunnar Schmidt, KDE Accessibility (GS)
    • Olaf Schmidt, KDE Accessibility (OS)
    • Richard Schwerdtfeger, IBM (RichS)
    • Robert Sinclair, Microsoft (RobS)
    • Willie Walker, Sun Microsystems (WW)
      • regrets: none logged

For Reference

Preliminary Items


JS: Janina Sajka, chair of Open Accessibility, involved in standards development

OS: Olaf Schmidt, part of KDE Accessibility Team

GS: Gunnar Schmidt, active in KDE Accessibility; writing thesis (screen magnifier for linux)

AK: head of accessibility team at Adobe; based in Massachusetts

WW: head of Orca project and outreach program for GNOME accessibility

RichS: from IBM (editor of WAI-ARIA)

PB: chair of IAccessible2 SIG

CG: work for Novell, lead on port of UIAutimation spec to linux for mono -- ATK bridge very much an interest

EJ: Sun Microsystems, chair of Keyboard SIG

RobS: been involved in a11y for 11 years, head of accessibility team at Microsoft, here today mainly as AIA member-at-large

MC: NVDA Project developer and user

Approval of Past Minutes

Brief Items and Announcements

Open Accessibility at CSUN 2008: Final Issues & Preparations

For Reference:

JS: will chair panel, introduce Open A11y (who, why); WillieW: AT-SPI; EarlJ: KAFS and KAFS GTA; Neil Soiffer: Expert Handlers overview; and PeteB: IAccessible2 overview

EJ: question on time -- 50 minutes for panel, how much for each panelist?

JS: don't want to do off top of my head

EJ: email on list is fine

JS: will do -- can be flexible

WW: 5 to 10 minutes per segment?

EJ: 5 to 15 -- will look to moderator for guidance

JS: approximately 10 minutes each -- guess is that individuals will have closer to 15 minutes

EJ: remember to factor in time for questions and answers

ACTION JS: circulate proposal for format of panel presentation

WW: need to talk with JS, GJR, and PB about intersection of AT-SPI and IAccessible2;

Informational Web Site Update: New Short URIs for Open A11y web space

Main Site:

Special Interest Group Home Pages

Open Accessibility Specifications & Documentation

Recommendations for Assistive Technology Developers

Meeting Minutes

NOTE: An audio archive of the 4 March 2008 Open Accessibility call (in OGG format) is also available.

MAIN TOPIC: Open Accessibility and the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance

For Reference:

JS: rest of the hour will be dedicated to discussion of collaboration and complimentary projects between Open Accessibility (A11y) and the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance (AIA)

JS: who would like to provide a brief intro so we can discuss a concrete proposal for working in concert

AK: brief description of what AIA is -- group of both IT and AT companies and growing number of non-governmental organizations interested in general goals of accessibility and interoperability; AIA founded to look at these issues -- 4 current projects with another proposed: 1) accessibility API interoperability; 2) mapping WAI-ARIA to UI Automation (UIA); 3) keyboard shortcuts for AT products; 4) UIA Express specification

AK: objective is to work to ensure that accessibility APIs that we use and the ones we need to interoperate with are working well together and harmonized; IAccessible2 and AT-SPI

RobS: feedback from industry to ensure that bridge-work efforts come together and are compatible and complimentary; as CalvinG mentioned working with Novell, helping map into linux API in complementary manner to AT-SPI development; formalize work with Open A11y so that AIA work remains aligned with Open A11y work, and that work at Open A11y informs AIA -- some AIA members may not be able to join Linux Foundation, but no reason not to build bridges and liaison; Novell already serving as bridge between the 2;

JS: Open A11y perspective -- history is open source (code as well as licensing) useful to end-users faster and more throughly than in the past; accidentally ended up in Linux Foundation, provide structure, but scope also broader than linux -- approached apple in the past -- scope always wider than linux -- Free Standards Group merged with Open Source Development Labs to form Linux Foundation -- didn't split off because it makes sense and have infrastructural support; very much about interoperable code, platform-agnostic solutions, open process

CG: Novell's goal is similar to LF -- support open source and work in open (all linux work done openly) -- believe in that model -- implementing UI Automation attempt to bring accessibility into mono and tie into existing infrastructures on linux; desktop enabled through LF community work -- want to continue to work in community; funding for GNOME accessibility; i will be working with both Open A11y and with AIA (UIAutomation) -- working between 2 and talking to ensure maximum interoperability; improve a11y in general on linux desktop also an interest

JS: questions?

MC: what is involved in becoming member of AIA -- need to have track record of developing "commercial" products

RobS: want people building product, rather than theoretical models

AK: right -- NVDA would qualify because delivers product -- product or tool being used is what we mean

GJR: why UI Automation and not IAccessible2?

CG: someone previously asked if building AT products on top of UIA -- answer is no that is not our objective; our objective is not to replace other techs, but build ATK and ATK-bridge on top of AT-SPI we are trying to bridge between UIA and ATK to enable WinForms and Moonlight (linux port of microsoft's Silverlight) in mono to be able to communicate through ATK bridge; also building client side (similar to Python bindings int AT-SPI) if someone wanted to write to UIA specification, would be portable between platforms; will implement entire client and server side for UIA, but not going to try to replace existing AT such as Orca -- one member of team relies on ORCA

EJ: no changes to AT-SPI spec, but investigating a UIA wrapper?

CG: several members of team looking into AT-SPI to get that ported to D-Bus on Linux; may be need for us to extend AT-SPI, ATK or all of it, so IAccessible2, UI Automation, and any other accessibility API can use ATK/AT-SPI infrastructure; don't know if changes will be needed, but if they arise, we will bring issues to AT-SPI work at Open A11y and take into account issues from everyone using AT-SPI

JS: my understanding that AIA's purpose is to collaboratively enhance a11y primarily on windows platform -- how open is collaboration? are there non-disclosure agreements on code? openness of process and results -- license term -- move things to standards (and if so what type); shared desire to collaborate,

RobS: AIA isn't intended to be window-specific; most of current projects are aimed at windows because Microsoft proposed them to AIA; goal is solve remaining problems concerning accessibility -- AT-interoperability work not specific to windows platform; currently working clarify the charters of each working group; each group will decide what form output will be: standard, open information -- up to WG to determine; licensing -- no requirement that it be open source or non-open source -- not requirement to be open source; trying to enable all companies to participate, so wouldn't want to require one way or the other

AK: ultimately, from Adobe's perspective, is not to work on windows-specific projects; UIA Express is windows, UIA mapping to WAI-ARIA and ensuring that works with existing ATs; mapping to IAccessible2; ensuring that all pieces fit together on both sides - output a11y info to UIA, IA2 and MSAA; just a piece of larger puzzle -- want to ensure in sync with open A11y work

AK: different membership classifications -- developer members and contributor members; trying to structure so that there is another classification of members; LF contributors would probably be either developers or distributors; want to ensure room for participation in AIA for open source developers -- need to make that possible

CG: licensing and NDA -- all Novell work for implementing UIA and providing bridges, class libraries would be licensed under MIT X11 license, what plugs into would be GPL or LGPL

JS: LGPL popular within FSG/LF -- pretty much the bottom line; more about moving standards but moved into developing in order to plug holes

RichS: Rob, what are you looking for from Open A11y -- what are your goals?

RobS: conversation so people understand what AIA is about -- work together to ensure that work is complimentary and in sync; make sure we are all on same page

RichS: great idea

JS: always about openness, collaboration and consensus -- the better the engineering, the better the solution

JS: question is what do we need to set up, if anything? what would you like to see us set up -- have CalvinG's group liaison for starters?

RobS: seems to be working well

CG: everyone in both organizations have been very welcoming and open -- yet to run into any roadblocks or animosity on either side; idea of me bridging gap between 2 and bringing AIA understanding to Open A11y and what is happening in Open A11y to AIA, i am more than willing to do that -- especially since i'm doing that already

AK: what we've started with calvin is right first step; need to become more familiar with LF and Open A11y, but want to make clear statement that as part of its commitment to interoperability with other standards we will explore means of working with LF and other standards bodies; mutual comfort level with occasional check-ins; overlap of membership and desired outcomes, all incentives to working together

RobS: more overlap, the better off we will be

PB: good suggestion

JS: not hearing any objections; process -- does AIA keep minutes? archived? publicly available? our minutes and email are open

RobS: still trying to get up and running, but that is the goal -- retained maintainer for web site and archives and administration

AK: call to sync up every 3 months? face to face at CSUN or other possibilities

RobS: seems practical

JS: we should move forward on this -- Open A11y concerns were openness of process and openness of results -- don't restrict people from using closed source and documentation, but Open A11y/LF is about moving things to specifications and certification; have authorization to move to ISO -- looking at validation testing for AT-SPI which comply with LSB (Linux Standard Base); next step implementation and adoption; willing to work with anyone to harmonize APIs -- we wouldn't adopt things that are proprietary, but since AIA looking to be open in process and documentation, we have no problem cooperating

RobS: would that mean that our current approach of coding openly and privately designing solution and bringing to market primary goal right now -- will that be a problem?

PB: IA2 is LGPL, but key thing is open standards -- have some proprietary and some open source implementations -- no restriction on openness is essential

RobS: hoping that work will end up in both open source and proprietary solutions

PB: open source developer licensing?

CG: intent of licensing that Microsoft has on it is part of their "community promise" -- no restrictions on implementation of specification; available via the AIA site -- no restrictions between our goals and open source implementation

OS: KDE project is open source -- consider it very important that standards are fully comfortable within themselves; need to be clear that participants clearly allow open source applications, no matter who develops it; problem is current framework such as process MS agreed upon -- not truly comfortable with open source licenses; agreement between MS and Novell announced before AIA announced -- would like to have addressed: any standard developed for open source is licensed in manner that is equally comfortable for open source and commercial developers

RobS: community promise on UIA specification is a different agreement than the generic community promise

OS: has that been tracked by any open source entity to ensure that it is compatible with open source licenses?

JS: sounds like our next step -- an exchange of IPR and licensing policies

RobS: AIA site links to Microsoft's "community promise"

JS: exchange policies and meet again to discuss any issues over IPR?

RobS: sounds fine, but that will almost always involve the attorneys - perhaps best for LF legal counsel could speak with ours

JS: start with ourselves becoming comfortable, and then take to the lawyers

AK: specific resources or guidance about open source and expectations would be good for AIA to discuss internally and then bring back whatever issues might be identified

JS: appreciate that very much

PB: all meeting minutes available publicly on internet; all publicly archived lists; all drafts and specs public

JS: open to all comers -- if interested, and willing to work, that is sufficient; votes closer to unanimity than merely majority

PB: question for RobS -- difference between community promise for UIA and an community promise

AK: some required portions of UIA -- if implementation has required portions, granted all patent and IPR

RobS: reviewing required portions of spec to ensure that they are the right set -- if not, will revise and reissue -- essence of community promise

JS: we are past the hour -- follow up after CSUN -- perhaps April? will put together pointers for policies Open A11y IPR Policy and Procedures

JS: still waiting on LF for final IPR policy

AK: thanks for call

JS: thank you all for coming

scribe's note: if you need the password to get to the OGG-formatted audio archive of the 4 March 2008 meeting, email janina_at_a11y_dot_org

New Business

Identify Topics for Future Open Accessibility Teleconference

  • Will there be a 11 March 2008 conference call?
    • Identify items for the 11 March 2008 conference call
  • Identify items for the 18 March 2008 conference call
    • CSUN 2008 De-Briefing
    • CSUN 2008 Follow-up

Wrap Up

Summary of New Action Items

Summary of Continued Action Items

Summary of Resolutions