I was really pleased to read about an accessibility review of ORCA in a KDE blog post. It’s a pointer to a bit of study on the integration of ORCA in Gnome (you can jump straight to the report here) and the good news is, it’s really very positive. Thanks to super work on AT-SPI, a11y is starting to shape up on the Linux desktop, and the source of the blog post suggests that BOTH the desktop heavyweights care about it.
Even better was the news that the German federal government is funding several full-time developers to work on accessibility in Orca and Ubuntu and by extension other free software distributions too. There seems to be a growing consensus that the needs of key constituencies, such as those with special accessibility needs, or those who need independent access to public sector documents and data, are best served through collaboration around content and code that is licensed in a truly open fashion.
At the last Ubuntu Developer Summit, in Mountain View in November ’06, we had a first mini-summit of a11y-focused developers. It would be great to gather together the relevant researchers and app developers in Seville in May to continue that work? Michael Zacherle sets a nice clear goal in a recent email:
“At the end we want to have at least the ICDL Core Modules accessible, together with instructions and documentation.”
For those who haven’t encountered it, the ICDL (“International Computer Drivers Licence”) is a basic course which covers everything you need to know to be office-capable with a computer. In other words, the basics you need to call yourself computer literate, and in many cases, one of the key requirements for a job.
Recently, I’ve seen encouraging signs that the ICDL will be fully supportive of people who want to be “computer literate” with free software. Wouldn’t it be something if that privilege were extended to EVERY user, regardless of financial circumstance, language, or disability?