I'd like to sing Mozilla Foundation's praises for a minute, in
appreciation, and let them know that the efforts are paying off.
In fact, many people here probably do not know how many accessibility
projects Mozilla has helped. They have helped fund developers working on
preliminary studies, ARIA work, testing tools, infrastructure, and lots
If not for the various Mozilla Foundation ARIA grants, would Web 2.0
ever have a chance of becoming accessible? It would have been a
nightmare, where the accessibility community collectively cried out in
hate to see that fight, because clearly AJAX, Mashups and Web 2.0 are a
huge paradigm shift that the industry needs. Innovation does not have to
imply "not accessible". Sure, not all Web 2.0 developers will use ARIA,
but we already see all 4 major browser vendors working on ARIA support,
and we have supporters in many other places (see
What would accessibility on Linux be like without Mozilla grants on
Orca? Certainly, at least the web would still not be accessible on
Linux. And Mozilla has helped pay for Braille support as well as many
infrastructure and performance improvements on Linux and in Orca.
True, there is no denying we still have a long way to go even after
Firefox 3 (finally) ships. I'd personally like to see ever-better ARIA
support, more closed captioning on the web, work on alternative input
and open source ATs, and an accessible Firefox on OS X. But, it must be
said that there is a positive movement and a community is working
together to solve problems. Viable open source ATs are being developed
that can be used to push forward accessibility in ways never before
done. Why shouldn't diagrams or math be accessible? The community can
work together to make it happen.
Without sounding too bombastic, I'd like to suggest that Mozilla's work
in accessibility is helping to push the industry forward. In the future
I would like to see the community help drive accessibility docs for
developers as well as curriculum for University students. In general I'd
like to see accessibility development be made easier and less of a
burden on developers (especially unnecessary the cross-platform API
What are your thoughts? Is there something Mozilla did that you
appreciate? Or is there something you want the community to do?
These are mine: thank you, Mozilla. you've already made a difference
that you cannot completely understand.
If this weren't enough, Mozilla's contribution to the NVDA project has
played a large part in NVDA's success and rapid development. First,
Mozilla provided a grant to work on a new, in-process virtual buffer
library, which facilitates the fast, reliable, rich access to web
content in Firefox and Thunderbird 3 enjoyed by NVDA users today. With
the paramount importance of the web in the information technology world,
it goes without saying that this contribution has had a huge impact on
NVDA and its users.
At the start of this year, Mozilla provided a grant to employ me to work
on NVDA full time. If someone had told me in September last year that I
would be able to work on NVDA as my full time job, I probably would have
laughed, shrugged and continued to dream. Now, months later, this is a
reality thanks to the Mozilla Foundation. I would thus like to extend my
personal gratitude to Mozilla for this opportunity to contribute all of
my working hours to something about which I am so passionate and
When you first invited me to Boston 2 years ago I was so impressed by
the central role that Mozilla play in Open Accessibility that I wrote
a gushing blog post. Since then my appreciation has grown as we see
more and more features arriving in Firefox, GNOME, the web and other
projects. My dream of Open Accessibility offering users low cost
innovative solutions for AT and accessibility is becoming reality and
as you say Mozilla have been hugely important. Mozilla have the
position, products, community and principles that make them uniquely
capable of doing this, and they have do so with great effect under the
leadership of Frank. Aaron, Marco and others with boundless energy
from the many community members. That is why I happily take every
opportunity I can to let everyone know how how brilliant Mozilla are.
A fully appreciate Mozilla funding my rather faltering attempts to get
Jambu going. By offering the grant's Mozilla enabled me to take the
step of concentrating on Open Accessibility and develop my advocy work
since Oatsoft. Even better I have become part of a fantastic community
of people who are commited to Open Accessibility. I have been able to
develop a good understanding of the work and contribute in many ways.
ARIA is going to be critical and having a reference implementation in
Firefox has been very important. I guess you are now seeing fruit from
all you hard work. Thanks.
> Or is there something you want the community to do?
Keep up the drive and good work and stay at the centre of it all.
We need to spread the word and ensure users know what is available,
developers can get up to speed and both work together to get great
features out there. We're doing that I just think we could do more and
so am trying to do my bit.
Get main stream devs and web authors even more into accessibility,
perhasp without realising it ;-)
> Without sounding too bombastic, I'd like to suggest that Mozilla's work
> in accessibility is helping to push the industry forward. In the future
> I would like to see the community help drive accessibility docs for
> developers as well as curriculum for University students. In general I'd
> like to see accessibility development be made easier and less of a
> burden on developers (especially unnecessary the cross-platform API
Yes I think you have identified critical areas for the work to mature
and adoption to spread. We want a11y to be easy to implement well,
automatic even. These are areas I would like to help in too, I'm
working up a Jambu proposal but perhaps my efforts would be better
focused here? Were have recently seen increased interest on the list
from new developers and I was thinking we need to make life as easy as
possible for those trying to get up to speed.
2008/5/15 Aaron Leventhal <aaronle...@moonset.net>:
> dev-accessibility mailing list
Well Project Possibility's great extra curricular work is a solid
foundation for that.
The INGOTs Open Source friendly ICT certificates have higher levels
that are University level and include Open Source project community
service. I'm sure Ian Lynch would be very open to having some
accessibility competencies included. That's probably more user
focussed but contributions can be anything.
As a small step, Becta here in the UK have recently called for tenders
for an Open Source schools project (http://tinyurl.com/58rlet).
Schoolforge.org.uk are putting in a bid with Ian leading and the
INGOTS playing an important part. No prizes for guessing which web
browser will featured and Special Educational Needs will mean that
open accessibility is required.
I value the cooperation that takes place here, and the way in which all of the
improvements are contributed to software that is truly free as in freedom, as
well as free as in price.
Mozilla is at the forefront of Web accessibility with its Aria implementation.
>From a practical standpoint, the excellent work on Mozilla Firefox and Orca
be supported by console-based Web browsers in their current form, and probably
never will be. As Aria is more widely implemented, an increasing variety of
In addition, Mozilla as a development platform has opened opportunities for
the construction of creative accessibility-related extensions, such as Fire
It is important for the community to write the test suite envisaged on the
post Firefox 3 task list, to avoid accessibility-related regressions.
MathML and SVG access are important areas in which I would like to see
progress made once Firefox 3 is released.
>From a personal perspective, accessibility under Linux is extremely important,
as I have chosen to use it as my exclusive operating system.
Aaron Leventhal wrote:
> I am interested to hear what impact people think Mozilla's work in
> accessibility has had on users developers, organizations, or the
> industry as a whole.
It started to become visible to me sometime in the year 2000 or 2001,
when I received an e-mail from a then customer of mine at Freedom
Scientific, asking whether JAWS would work with the Mozilla suite, which
recently had released a version that included MSAA support.
Out of curiosity, I downloaded the build, and immediately found out that
the installer talked very decently to me. When the first web page came
up, it became evident that there was no virtual cursor support yet. But
when i tabbed around, I found that even then, the links etc. already
gave me feedback.
My curiosity was certainly peaked, and I started following the
happenings at Mozilla, watched how the suites came out, how it was then
decided to go for smaller, more independent applications (Firefox and
Thunderbird) instead of continuing work on the all-in-one suite.
I noticed that in Europe, when Firefox came about, things were really
starting to take off in terms of popularity. There was something special
about the way Mozilla did things that gave it good press coverage and a
very active community.
But still, the accessibility was not much better in Firefox 1.0 than it
had been in the Suite version I had tried out earlier.
And then came the first e-mails through my official account that were
about supporting Firefox in the upcoming JAWS 7.0 and Firefox 1.5 releases.
And some day, I tried out a version of JAWS 7 with Bonecho Alpha 1 or 2.
It rocked! It was blazingly fast, it gave me all the features I had
known from browsing with IE for years, and more. I immediately fell in
love with tabbed browsing as a much more efficient way of managing
several open pages. It was then that I started giving feedback to Aaron
as an FS representative on certain issues I saw.
I also then became aware of the first DHTML support that was being
planned, and in some Firefox 2 build, I also saw it in action on a test
page at mozilla.org. I did comparative testing with IE and immediately
saw the difference, and that was not even ARIA yet as we know it today!
When it became evident that my days at my previous employer were
counted, I dove deeper into Mozilla accessibility and found the progress
made in Firefox 3, with Orca on Linux supporting it, NVDA just having
received their grant for an in-process DLL on Windows, etc.
I started contributing bug reports to the Firefox 3 project and was
And now, it's my new job.
Impact? I dunno, may be understated. :-)
For the future, I'd like to echo what Steve has said, in that it is very
important that we help educate future software developers to make
accessibility part of their mindset, lower the barriers for implementing
it, educate web devs to what ARIA can do for them, drive the HTML 5
accessibility standardization effort forward...Obviously this is not
going to rest on one person's shoulders. We have a great community that
can share the responsibilities, learn from one another, and drive things
forward in chorus.
And we will always welcome new interested people into the community.
Fresh infusion of ideas always keeps us all sharp and ensures we don't
become set in our ways.
My personal dream is that I'll never stop learning new things about the
possibilities an open source community offers, and that I can help
"infect" others with my enthusiasm for it.
Thanks to Aaron and the hand ful of people who initially started this
effort! You've helped this become a thriving project which inspires new
ways of thinking, opens up new possibilities and impacts countless
people's lives in a positive way every day. That's the feeling I get
when I am at conferences or trade shows, talking to people in e-mail, on
the phone or through my blog or IRC, and they echo my personal feelings
I also run Linux exclusively. About all I can add to this is a cuple of real world examples.
Thanks to Firefox I can now manage my t-mobile account and pay my rent with online banking. Recent changes in policy by my land lord
meant I had to use online banking to pay. I'm glad Firefox was available to solve this problem.
Also, Firefox made it possible earlier this year for me to file a tax return to get the stimulus check offered by the U. S. government.
MoFo rocks! As well personally for me keeping involved in mozilla
Yes, I think even just getting developers involved in accessibility has
been of great service to the community. Many idealistic, energetic
developers are learning more about accessibility engineering because of
the community, the projects, the documentation and conference attendences.
My employer, Sun Microsystems, has invested (and continues to invest) a
lot in this space, but the problem is not something that can be solved
by one company alone. It takes an entire community to make this succeed.
The Mozilla Foundation's investment in this space has not only helped us
greatly to rapidly accelerate the development of solutions in Orca, it
has also helped accomplish things otherwise not possible. For direct
impact on Orca, I see at least these things:
0) Mozilla's internal investment in Gecko accessibility itself and the
cooperation with assistive technology developers (e.g., Orca) helped us
rapidly explore and improve access to Firefox. Rapid turn around on
bugs and features by Surkov and Aaron, for example, helped us move
forward at a lightning pace. The improvements to Gecko not only
improved Firefox access, btw, but will also result in an accessible help
system for GNOME. So, the results are far reaching.
1) MoFo's investment not only included funding engineering work, but
also included supporting valuable opportunities for teams to hold
face-to-face meetings to brainstorm and plan. One specific very
valuable moment for me was being able to have a face-to-face in Boston
where we devised an amenable solution to presenting the DOM in the
AT-SPI object model. Had we not met face-to-face, I'm not sure how fast
we would have been able to make progress. Other moments include being
able to meet at CSUN to brainstorm ARIA plans and get in touch with
other developers working in this space.
2) The investment in ARIA by Mozilla and UToronto helped us flesh out
accessibility to AJAX. Again, the cooperation between industry groups
here was key, as well as the commitment by each group to invest the
appropriate time and resources needed to do the job. MoFo's investment
in an Orca engineer (Scott Haeger) dedicated to presentation of ARIA
objects via Orca, for example, helped make this happen.
3) MoFo's investment in an engineer (Eitan Isaacson) on the common
Python Bindings for AT-SPI (pyatspi) and the port of Orca to these
bindings was awesome. The pyatspi work not only provided the
Linux/Solaris space with common bindings for use across all assistive
technologies and testing tools, but it also helped pave the way for the
AT-SPI/DBus migration being done today.
4) MoFo's investment in the AT-SPI/DBus investigation gave us a detailed
plan for migrating AT-SPI to DBus. This work is currently being done by
Codethink thanks to Nokia's funding -- the result will be unified
accessibility support for GNOME and KDE, and will also make
accessibility support on mobile and embedded devices more viable.
5) MoFo's investment in an engineer (Eitan Isaacson again!) to add
contracted braille support to Orca has resulted in extra benefits. For
example, we now have a vastly improved open source process for the
liblouis project. The liblouis project not only benefits Orca, but is
also beneficial to any number of projects wanting contracted braille.
In all these cases, we had a swirling vortex of community members
feeding other community members in an extreme collaborative fashion.
Each organization stepped up to the plate -- Sun funded its
Accessibility Program Office appropriately, MoFo and Mozilla funded
their work and the work of others appropriately, IBM funded its
employees, etc., and we all came together as a community to make this
happen. The excitement and energy around this also led to new members
joining the community and adding to the collective knowledge and expertise.
So...all in all...this rocks. I also forgot the most important thing:
as the result of this work, our users are winning. We continually get
positive feedback from our users regarding their experiences with access
to the web via Firefox 3 and Orca.
We have also created a very good community model, and I can only hope to
see this cooperation and investment continue.
Thanks MoFo! You Rock!
I've been mucking about in accessibility for about 12 years now but my
world changed in late 2006 when I discovered what our Aaron Leventhal,
and Frank Hecker were doing.
About a year and a half ago Aaron messaged me over IRC. He knew I
maintained GOK, the Gnu-Linux/GNOME On-screen Keyboard, and he wanted to
help with the open source alt input space through the Mozilla
Foundation. I was shocked that what I thought was just a web browser
shop was at all interested in helping fund assistive technology! It was
much later that I read the Mozilla Foundation manifesto and understood.
I crudely sum it up these days as: "the internet is for everyone".
And that, my friends, gels.
I didn't fully realize it at the time, but I had just begun my journey
into a precious community of bright, and impassioned people. That
community is the Mozilla community, and in particular, the Mozilla
accessibility community. I feel like I have lived 5 fantastic years in
the last 18 months. A fire in me has completely rekindled and I feel
like I am on a mission.
Much to my surprise, I have found myself helping push the modern web
accessibility solution with a series of grants from the Mozilla
toolkit, to participate in the PFWG at the W3C with ARIA specifications
and best practices, and to help make sure the full accessibility stack
works to bring Web2.0 to everyone. I look forward to helping with jquery
accessibility over the summer. And none of this have I done, nor can I
I have met stars that I hope to work with well into the future and am
Thank you Mozilla Foundation, you are a rare gem. Don't ever change.
When I was at CSUN I got to meet a few Israelis who passed by the
Mozilla booth. They were representing a few access-related non-profits
who among other things did consulting for the Israeli government. I
thought this would be a great opportunity to preach FOSS in my mother
Since Israel represents a small market, software localization has always
been lacking. Localized commercial software is mostly limited to a
handful of Microsoft products. The Hebrew speaking blind and low-vision
community is an even smaller subset, and thus usually are a very low
priority for accessibility product vendors as Freedom Scientific. Most
users in Israel are still using JAWS 6 because it is the only available
localized screen reader (localized by a Lebanese third party). Same with
applications, old version of Microsoft Word and IE are all that folks
there could hope for.
It's actually quite depressing, I spoke to a couple of parents and they
all sounded defeated: They don't expect anything new or cutting edge for
their children any time soon, and still stick to the most widely
supported legacy software.
I'm expecting a lot of this to change soon. Thanks to the Mozilla
Foundation, we are close to having a high quality, Open Source, stack
of accessible applications, if it is Firefox, or screen readers like
Orca and NVDA.
Small communities like Hebrew speaking blind folks are no longer
dependent on market demand to get current localized versions of the best
software out there. With just a bit of motivation, small language
communities could lead their own localization efforts.
Thank you Mozilla for putting Open Source on the lead in all things
On a personal note, I would like to thank Aaron, Frank, Will and Marco
for continuing to believe in me, and being so supportive of my work.
My response is directed to the Mozilla Foundation.
I have been working on accessibility since 1990. Increasingly, over the
years many proprietary, closed source companies have and continue to create
artificial barriers to accessibility. I met this frustration again when I
started WAI-ARIA four years ago and tried to work with all browser
manufacturers to address what was then considered the inaccessibility of
Consequently, with a lot of work by Aaron, Becky Gibson, and many of the
rest of the people on the list we made the first donation of WAI-ARIA
support in Firefox 1.5. Both Mozilla and IBM received huge press from this
work, however what happened next was something that attacked the greater
problem of getting around the proprietary roadblocks that leave people
behind. This was the formation of the Mozilla Grants program.
I can tell you that IBM, Sun, ATRF, and other "accessibility drivers" don't
have endless resources to drive everything. It was critical that we expand
the community of accessibility experts to attack some really hard problems
such as: accessibility on the different platforms; the accessibility of
Web 2.0 live regions; the production of reusable WAI-ARIA enabled widget
libraries; and the implementation of the collection APIs in Linux. Thanks
in large part to the efforts by the Mozilla Foundation, we have solutions
to these problems and a new wave of technically savvy, entrepreneurial,
accessibility experts. This community can collectively ignore the
proprietary roadblocks and deliver accessibility to the hard problems for
the masses. This is huge.
If I could nominate the Mozilla Foundation for an accessibility peace price
I would do it in a heartbeat. It has helped many of us make our dreams
possible and remove barriers to people with disabilities.
Distinguished Engineer, SWG Accessibility Architect/Strategist
Chair, IBM Accessibility Architecture Review Board
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