OpenDocument v1.1 is now an OASIS standard

The OASIS ballot for OpenDocument v1.1 has closed, and without a single dissenting vote, OpenDocument v1.1 has been approved as an OASIS Standard. This is another affirmation of the increasing participation of the disability community in developing technology standards - and in the welcome that participation is receiving by at least this technology standards body. Proof of this is the fact that OpenDocument v1.1 is primarily the work of the disability community and experts in disability technology - with key additions coming from the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and the Institute for Community Inclusion, in addition to those from disability technology experts at committee members large and small.

Standards involvement is another facet of what what Joanmarie Diggs notes in her blog entry Accessibility in the "Participation Age" - the increasing active participation of the disability community in setting the directions and standards of the technology that affects their lives as much as everyone else's; and in their direct involvement in developing that technology.

In a recent blog entry, Joanmarie talks about "having spent a decade on the outside, unable to look in — forced to be a consumer rather than a contributor" to access technology. In that same entry, she goes on to say "I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come across an accessibility regression in the Windows environment and have been powerless to do anything about it." But in her work over the last six months on open source accessibility tools providing access to among other things OpenDocument format via OpenOffice.org, Joanmarie says "the fact that I, a mere mortal user, have access to that code and can track such things down and can communicate directly with the engineers pleases me to no end. Open source solutions enable you to shape and refine the tools you need yourself. It may at times be hard work, but it is incredibly empowering work."

Thanks to the contributions of Joanmarie of the Carroll Center for the Blind, and those of Dave Pawson of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and David Clark of the Institute for Community Inclusion, and Janina Sajka of the Free Standards Group Accessibility working group, and the many other people from the disability community taking part in the open source Orca screen reader effort and the larger UNIX accessibility work, people with disabilities are no longer "forced to be consumers instead of contributors".

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Peter Korn

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