Thread Subject: Re: 1194.22(b) in Group A: Re: JimTobias' commentabout requiring AT
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From: Peter Korn
Date: Fri, Oct 20 2006 12:05 AM
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I wrote initially:
""I am a bit concerned with this. While I'm delighted to see what
be actual competition among OS vendors in bundling AT with their operating
systems (as we now have competition in car manufacturers as to how may air
bags they have), I do not think we should require that. I think it is wrong
to place a barrier to entry in the OS market saying that you have to provide
specific AT with your OS, or specific "accessibility features".""
To which Tamas replied:
"I think operating systems should contain certain accessibility features.
When accessibility features are missing, the operating system maybe such
that a software running under it might not be able to be accessible.
Consider the Orca project for Linux for example. Without implementing a
level of accessibility features into the OS, assistive technologies would
have nothing to rely on. Also, it would be a huge Burdon on the software
manufacturers to come up with their own accessibility features, which would
also restrict usability, given that the users would have to learn to use
them every time they learn a new software."
I completely agree that this is the right way to do it. (no surprise,
as I was one of the folks who helped create the architecture in Linux
and UNIX that Orca is using). My concern is whether to explicitly
require it, or to recommend it as the best practice.
Perhaps this is not so important a distinction, as we have in 1194.5
Equivalent facilitation "Nothing in this part is intended to prevent the
use of designs or technologies as alternatives to those prescribed in
this part provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater
access to and use of a product for people with disabilities." So if we
prescribe that an OS must do something in 1194.21 or some other section,
1194.5 says that if what is acquired under 508 accomplishes the same
goals - e.g. the Functional performance criteria in 1194.31 - in some
other fashion, than all is fine.
My concern is simply that we not should hamper innovation toward
accomplishing equal or improved accessibility.
Tamas also wrote:
"An other thought I have about operating systems, is that all operating
systems can be classified as software, but not all softwares are operating
systems. Thus, operating systems should be compliant with all standards,
after all, they are also constitute as a government purchase. I would like
to see some standards, which set the foundation of a solid and accessible
operating systems, so that all applications and assistive technologies would
be able to run on them."
I agree, though I'd say it slightly differently. Virtually all
operating systems contain software applications, but few software
applications contain operating systems. Some of those are virtual
operating systems operating in another, host OS (e.g. VMware; and some
might see the Java platform or an X server as having some of these
I would say that all apps shipped with an OS (be it the calculator or
the printer setup dialog) should comply with all of the software
application accessibility guidelines [or provide equivalent
functionality some other way]. Likewise if we wind up making a separate
category for AT, then all AT that ships with an OS should comply with
those guidelines [or provide equivalent functionality some other way].
I think it would be very useful to describe a set of operating system,
or platform, features which we recommend they have to support
accessibility. I remain concerned with explicitly requiring them; at
least unless we enshrine equivalent facilitation for them such that if
the end-user goal is accomplished then the offering is said to meet 508.
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
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