Microsoft backs accessibility alliance
By Simon Aughton
Posted on 10 Dec 2007 at 13:14
Adobe and Microsoft are among the founders of a new group of companies which will cooperate on improving access to software, hardware and the internet for disabled people.
The Accessibility Interoperability Alliance (AIA), which also numbers HP, Oracle and Novell among its founding members, intends to create a development standard which ensures that those using assistive technology (AT) - such as screen readers for the blind - can do so across all websites or applications.
There is currently no standard in place, meaning that those dependent on assistive technology are often forced to wait for upgrades before they can use the latest software.
Among its initial efforts the Alliance will be establishing a set of keyboard shortcuts for users of AT, that will be uniform across all browsers. It is also seeking to extend current accessibility models, such as Microsoft UI Automation and IAccessible2 , to improve interoperability with current AT technology.
The companies are hoping that their collaboration will improve developer guidelines, tools and help create technologies with lower development costs.
"Today, developers must work across divergent platforms, application environments and hardware models to create accessible technology for customers with disabilities," says Rob Sinclair, director of the Accessibility Business Unit at Microsoft.
"The AIA is an opportunity for the entire industry to come together to reduce the cost and complexity of accessibility, increase customer satisfaction, foster inclusive innovation, and reinforce a sustainable ecosystem of accessible technology products."
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