CyberTech Rambler

September 5, 2006

Accessibility question in ODF and software

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:51 pm

Andy Updegrove has a nice post describing IBM’s Workplace product. It is by far the best description of the product for a layman, better than, I am afraid to say, IBM’s own description. He concentrated on Workplace’s implementation of ODF. What interest me is the “admission” that IBM Workplace is still lacking in accessibility features as described in the articles.

When the accessibility question was raised in Massachusetts, I faulted ITD for not seeing this issue earlier. While the responsibility for not tackling it still lies with ITD, I find it surprising that a product which claims to have 125,000,000 users worldwide did not see it fit to cater for our disadvantaged colleagues as a must have. Surely IBM is aware that not all users are as privileged as we will like ourselves to be.

Seeing this in a larger context makes we wonder whether vendors of software knows about accessibility issues and simply choosen to ignore it. I should know coz I am a software developer. I am aware of accessibility issues, but always justify not putting even the bare basic in on the grounds that I do not have the need to do it if I cannot find a user with actual accessibility issue. The only face-saving measure I have is the promise to work with any of my users which have accessibility issue. With a small project, I cannot afford to find the time to deal with accessibility. With small user base it may be better to target  individual users’ accessibility issue. Hopefully, I will find that this is the correct compromise.

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