GNOME focuses on accessibility -- with a little help from Mozilla and others

The GNOME Foundation has turned its attention to accessibility for people with disabilities. To help improve both Web accessibility within GNOME and the project's long-term direction, the Mozilla Foundation is joining the GNOME advisory board, and plans to help improve integration of the XUL development platform with GNOME. Even more significantly, the GNOME Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, Novell, Google, and Canonical are jointly sponsoring a $50,000 outreach program to help improve accessibility in GNOME.

To an extent, these announcements simply formalize what has already been happening for the last few years. GNOME has included accessibility tools such as the Orca screen reader for several versions now, and has a large and active accessibility community inside the project. Willie Walker, a Sun employer and a lead developer on Orca, who has been working on accessibility for the X Window System for 20 years, describes the current state of GNOME accessibility as "a pretty decent solution," and says it is evolving rapidly, although he acknowledges that the tools do not yet match what is available on Windows.