In early July, the Linux Foundation announced new licensing terms for IAccessible2 (IA2) and the availability of AccProbe, a new desktop application testing tool for the development community. While this announcement does not seem "sexy" or suggest colossal consumer demand and huge profits, it has far-reaching and important implications for the accessibility of future software products, Web applications and mobile device support and apps.
IAccessible2 for Windows is an accessibility API for Windows that helps people who have disabilities more easily use the applications that embed the API—like Firefox and IBM Lotus Symphony. Now, IA2 is available under the Berkeley Source Distribution (BSD) license which is a simple and liberal license. Under BSD, developers can use the IA2 API and redistribute the resulting software in any form, with or without modification, and all they have to do is include: (1) the original copyright notice, (2) a list of two simple restrictions and (3) a disclaimer of liability.
The Linux Foundation summed up the change: "The license modification to BSD makes it easier to integrate open source AT into proprietary Windows environments, making programs more accessible to computer users with disabilities. Because the BSD license is designed to allow software released under the license to be incorporated into proprietary products, Windows users with disabilities can gain access to more applications while all Windows users will experience more reliable, fully-tested applications."
It's no coincidence that the Linux Foundation also announced the availability of AccProbe at this time. This testing tool uses IAccessible2 platform services to help developers discover and correct accessibility issues in their Windows applications.
"AccProbe is the only game in town for developers and testers who wish to leverage IAccessible2 in their desktop applications or test rich Internet applications in IA2-enabled browsers," said Michael Squillace, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center Software Engineer. "Extending our commitment to support AccProbe for The Linux Foundation IAccessible2 effort can help developers make applications more accessible for people with disabilities."