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Open source community to adapt IBM's open source technology to make Web 2.0 content accessible for the visually impaired

ARMONK, NY, December 4, 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 an open, extensible application design template developed by IBM. By using the template, 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, standardized design and application programming interfaces the template offers, developers can quickly and easily build various accessibility tools, such as an accessibility check tool and a usability visualization tool. The ACTF also provides unified access methods for various content
including multimedia content and office documents. IBM used this template
to develop multimedia browsing accessibility tool called IBM Accessiblity Internet Browser for Multimedia (aiBrowser) which opens the door of multimedia content for the visually impaired. (add alphaWorks link to the name: » www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/aibrowser)

Through the collaborative research and development activities of the community, ACTF will swiftly accommodate 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 between the sighted and the visually impaired, 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 template, collaborative research and development efforts driven by the 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 checking, 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 contents 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(U.S.A.); International Webmasters Association/HTML Writers Guild (IWA/HWG) (U.S.A.); Japan Braille Library
(Japan); Mozilla Foundation (U.S.A.); National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), Media Access Group at WGBH (U.S.A.); Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) (U.K.); SAP AG (Germany); SAS Institute Inc. (U.S.A.); SIG-Universal Access to the Internet (UAI), Internet Technology Research Committee (ITRC) (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 (U.K.); University of Toronto
(Canada); University of Washington (U.S.A.), Vision Australia (Australia); and Web Accessibility Tools Consortium (WAT-C).

For more information on this project, visit » http://www.eclipse.org/actf.

Georg Haberl, IBM Austria

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