OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta - with support for Mac, VoiceOver & Mac accessibility

The OpenOffice.org community has just announced the availability OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta. This release contains an impressive set of features, including native support for Macintosh, and support for most of the portions of the upcoming ODF v1.2 specification.

For me, one of the most noteworthy aspects of this beta release is direct support for the Macintosh accessibility framework and specifically interoperability with the VoiceOver screen reader. With OpenOffice.org 3.0, blind users on the Macintosh will finally have access to an office suite - enabling them to read and write office documents and spreadsheets and... In fact, because OpenOffice.org supports reading and writing .doc and .xls and .ppt files, this will allow blind users of the Macintosh to work with colleagues on Macintosh and Windows who might be using Microsoft Office. Of course it also means that ISO 26300:2006 format ODF documents are now accessible to the blind on Macintosh.

Earlier this year Sun demonstrated VoiceOver working with a development build of OpenOffice.org for Macintosh at the CSUN Conference on Technology and People with disabilities. We also had a chance to meet with a number of Macintosh AT vendors at the conference, and saw good results with their AT tools and the OpenOffice.org development build.

Download your copy of OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta today! Download the Macintosh version of OOo 3.0 beta here. Please be sure to report any problems found with the beta at the OpenOffice.org QA site. You may also want to check out the set of test cases to use as a reference for accessibility interoperability.

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Peter Korn

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