The Linux Foundation Delivers New Licensing Terms, Testing Tools for Accessibility Interfaces

The Linux Foundation Delivers New Licensing Terms, Testing Tools for Accessibility Interfaces

By making IAccessible2 available under the BSD license, more applications will be available to persons with disabilities

SAN FRANCISCO, July 6, 2010 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced that its Open Accessibility Workgroup is releasing IAccessible2 for Windows under the BSD license. It is also announcing the availability of AccProbe, a new desktop application testing tool that is available under the BSD license.

AccProbe uses IAccessible2 platform services to assist developers in discovering and correcting code problems in their Windows applications. It was developed in Eclipse by IBM and donated to The Linux Foundation’s Open Accessibility Workgroup.

At this year’s CSUN Conference on Disabilities, Adobe Systems Incorporated discussed plans to support IAccessible2 in the next major releases of Adobe® Acrobat® and Adobe Reader®. IAccessible2 is already supported in IBM Lotus Symphony, Firefox, and Eclipse. Assistive Technology (AT) vendors supporting the API include JAWS, NVDA, Window-Eyes and ZoomText.

“Adobe applauds The Linux Foundation’s release of IAccessible2 under a BSD license,” said Andrew Kirkpatrick, group product manager for Accessibility at Adobe. “IAccessible2 contains important technological improvements that we plan to incorporate into upcoming versions of Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash® Player, and Adobe AIR® in order to continue improving on existing accessibility support in these products.”

The license change to BSD makes it easier to integrate open source AT into proprietary Windows environments, making programs more accessible to computer users with disabilities. Because the BSD license is designed to allow software released under the license to be incorporated into proprietary products, Windows users with disabilities can gain access to more applications while all Windows users will experience more reliable, fully tested applications.

“The Open Accessibility workgroup is working hard to ensure all developers can incorporate the IAccessible2 API into their work for the benefit of all persons with disabilities,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “By transitioning to the BSD license and providing important testing tools for developers, the workgroup is demonstrating our commitment to computer access for all.”

IAccessible2 is accessibility API for Windows and facilitates access to applications like Firefox and IBM Lotus Symphony for persons with disabilities. It fills critical accessibility API gaps left by Microsoft’s Active Accessibility API (MSAA). Various governments worldwide are mandating accessibility in electronic and information services. For example, the U.S. government’s $40 billion annual budget for IT procurement complies with the law popularly known as “Section 508,” which is moving towards requiring API-based accessibility services.

ATs enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired to read online text and provide the means for individuals who do not have the use of their arms and hands to write and correspond. ATs also enable individuals who cannot speak or hear to participate on today’s teleconferences. For Windows developers, IAccessible2 implementation may be added to their existing MSAA-enabled applications in order to support richer functionality.

“The Linux Foundation’s IAccessible2 standard has contributed to the accessibility of essential industry technologies such as ODF, WAI-ARIA, and now Adobe’s PDF, ” said Rich Schwerdtfeger, CTO Accessibility, IBM Software. IBM’s donation of IAccessible2 continues to gain momentum, and the adoption of BSD licensing is just another example of how truly open communities like the Open Accessibility Working Group are responding to meet the needs of the broader industry.”

“AccProbe is the only game in town for developers and testers who wish to leverage IAccessible2 in their desktop applications or test rich Internet applications in IA2-enabled browsers,” said Michael Squillace, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center Software Engineer. “Extending our commitment to support AccProbe for The Linux Foundation IAccessible2 effort can help developers make applications more accessible for people with disabilities.”

Related Links

· The Linux Foundation’s Open Accessibility Workgroup homepage: http://a11y.org.

· More information on IAccessibility2: http://a11y.org/ia2

· Getting started with AccProbe: http://accessibility.linuxfoundation.org/a11yweb/util/accprobe/

· About the BSD license: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses

· About “Section 508”: http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm

About the Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux. Founded in 2007, the Linux Foundation sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and is supported by leading Linux and open source companies and developers from around the world. The Linux Foundation promotes, protects and standardizes Linux by hosting important workgroups, events such as LinuxCon, and online resources such as Linux.com (http://www.linux.com). For more information, please visit www.linuxfoundation.org (http://www.linuxfoundation.org) or follow the organization on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/linuxfoundation.
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Trademarks: The Linux Foundation and Linux Standard Base are trademarks of The Linux Foundation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.