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ARMONK, NY - 04 Dec 2007: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is contributing the Accessibility Tools Framework (ACTF) to the Eclipse Foundation, an open source community focused on developing a universal platform of frameworks and exemplary tools that make it easy and cost-effective to build and deploy software.
"We are excited to have IBM's contribution and leadership to the Eclipse ACTF project," says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "This is another great example of organizations driving forward technical innovation through an open source project at Eclipse."
Accessibility Tools Framework is a collection of tools and building blocks developed by IBM. By using the framework, developers can create accessibility tools and applications easily and cost effectively, as they no longer need to spend time creating a tool or an application from scratch. With the reusable accessibility technology components of ACTF, and the standardized design and application programming interfaces the framework offers, developers can quickly and easily build various accessibility tools, such as an accessibility validation tool or a usability visualization tool.
Through the collaborative research and development activities of the open source community, ACTF will swiftly integrate new technologies and accessibility guidelines to help developers quickly respond to the latest technology trends and high-level technical requirements in the Web 2.0 era. This is vital to close the digital divide for people with disabilities, making the Internet accessible to everyone.
According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 314 million visually impaired people worldwide, and between 750 million and 1 billion of the world's six billion people have a speech, vision, mobility, hearing or cognitive disability. Building upon the ACTF, collaborative research and development efforts driven by the open source community have the potential to produce additional applications and tools that can be accessed by a wider range of users. These include people with disabilities other than visually impaired, older users and novice technology users.
The open source collaboration model -- which has already been used to accelerate adoption of industry standards around data center automation and Web services -- has proven to be an effective way to spur innovation and bring open standards to systems. Contributions of software code are the hallmark of many successful open source efforts, such as Linux, Firefox, Mozilla and Eclipse. Such contributions of intellectual assets spur open source projects, since developers can access code and immediately begin collaborating with thousands of other developers worldwide who are using, refining and adopting the platform.
ACTF will allow developers to build and use various types of accessibility tools, such as those for accessibility compliance validation, usability visualization, and alternative accessible interfaces for persons with disabilities. These tools will be integrated into a single, comprehensive accessibility tooling environment as part of the Eclipse platform. Initially, ACTF will support content based on HTML, OpenDocument Format (ODF), Flash, Java application graphical user interfaces such as Java Swing and Eclipse SWT, and accessibility APIs such as Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) and IAccessible2 to provide unified accessibility to Web content and applications.
Initial supporters of this initiative include Actuate Corporation (U.S.A.); Adobe Systems Incorporated (U.S.A.); BIRT Project, Eclipse Foundation; BrailleNet (France); Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (Netherlands); IBM Corporation; International Webmasters Association/HTML Writers Guild (U.S.A.); Japan Braille Library (Japan); Mozilla foundation (U.S.A.); Royal National Institute of Blind People (United Kingdom); SAP AG (Germany); SAS Institute Inc. (U.S.A.); SIG-Universal Access to the Internet, Internet Technology Research Community (Japan); State University of New York at Stony Brook (U.S.A.); The Carroll Center for the Blind (U.S.A.); The Paciello Group (U.S.A.); Technosite (ONCE Foundation) (Spain); Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan); University of Manchester (United Kingdom); University of Toronto (Canada); University of Washington (U.S.A.); Vision Australia (Australia); and Web Accessibility Tools Consortium.
Recently, IBM updated its multimedia browsing accessibility tool called IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia (aiBrowser) which opens the door of multimedia content for the visually impaired. aiBrowser now helps developers better understand how a visually impaired developer would see a screen. In addition, IBM last week announced the opening of the first Human Ability and Accessibility Centre in India that will champion accessibility needs through technologies and innovations.
For more information on the Accessibility Tools Framework project, visit http://www.eclipse.org/actf.
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