David A. Wheeler's Blog

Fri, 25 Nov 2005

OpenDocument Accessibility

There has been a lot of virtual ink spent on OpenDocument accessibility. I’ve written up a short essay on OpenDocument accessibility, where I point to some other resources that talk about OpenDocument accessibility, and point out that there are lots of ways to get it. For a vast number of cases, products that natively support OpenDocument do just fine today. For some cases, just use Microsoft Office with an OpenDocument plug-in; you already have to use a third party plug-in to add accessibility in those cases, so saying that you can’t add a third-party plug-in for OpenDocument as well is simply hypocritical.

I also post a lengthy letter from Wesley Parish, who is disabled and yet is a strong supporter of OpenDocument. The article has more, but here are a few quotes: “It is necessary for the disabled to have access to all government information relevant to them, in a file format that is readily available for as many different applications from as wish it, one that does not insist that one jump through licensing hoops in order to implement it, one that can be readily extended in the future according to need - and one that can not be used as an excuse by lazy bureaucrats to deny me my rights! The question currently buzzing in Massachussetts is , “Does Open Document Format limit accessibility?” For myself, I find it does not. [In Computer Science] I found one of the most persistent concepts was a strict separation between data and executable code. ODF provides that strict separation, defining data separately from the code. … An open specification that allows ANYONE to implement accessibility solutions is the way to solve the problems of access by the the blind and other disabled. Otherwise, government data will be tied to specific programs and NOT accessible to all, and in time, NOT accessible at all.”

So go take a peek at my short essay on OpenDocument accessibility.

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