Mike Squillace and Accessibility in Eclipse

In this podcast (15:21), Mike Squillace, co-Technical Lead for the ACTF project discusses his EclipseCon 2009 Main stage presentation, Eclipse for All: Doing Accessibility Right in the Framework, the Accessibility Tools Framework (ACTF) project, and accessibility in Eclipse in general.

We talk about accessibility in the Eclipse workbench. Mike, who is himself blind, does all of this work in Eclipse. He estimates that he is able to exploit some 70% of the functionality that’s provided with the help of JAWS, a screen reader. It’s interesting to note that the ACTF tools are themselves accessible using a screen reader, or braille display. What’s interesting about that is that many other accessibility tools are not.

Making our own plug-ins and applications accessible is not particularly hard, but does require a little extra thought. As Mike notes, since SWT is based on the underlying windowing system, tools like JAWS (and, I assume, things like LSR as well) just work. Tod Creasey wrote an article, Designing Accessible Plug-ins in Eclipse, that contains great information you can use whether you’re writing plug-ins, RCP-based applications, or just using SWT.

Accessibility is not only about helping folks with disabilities. Mike discusses some broader implications: forget that it’s “the right thing to do and that there is legislation all over the world coming down the pike … there are mobile devices and situations when, for example, you are in your car or when you’ve got your hands tied … you are, to some extent, situationally disabled”.

I think this is stuff that every software developer needs to know about. I hope you can attend this main stage talk at EclipseCon 2009. The talk is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24 at 14.30h in the Theatre. I hope to see you there.

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