Thursday Feb 23, 2012

Oracle and AEGIS at CSUN

Spring has come early to California this week, just like the 27th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (more commonly known as the "CSUN Conference"). And just like last year, blooming wisteria outside my bedroom window lets me know that CSUN will take place next week.

This year Oracle is giving a presentation on Java & JavaFX accessibility, and I'm joining several AEGIS colleagues in giving 3 presentations on our work in the AEGIS project. Finally, I'm taking part ATIA's Accessibility Forum. Here's the full schedule:

If you are attending CSUN this year, I hope you'll stop by at one (or more) of our sessions and say hello!

Tuesday Nov 29, 2011

Java Spotlight on mobile accessibility with LWUIT

Ofir Leitner and I were interviewed recently about the Java mobile accessibility work we presented at JavaOne (and that I just presented again yesterday at the AEGIS Conference in Brussels). That interview appears on The Java Spotlight issue #58. You can listen to an MP3 recording of the interview, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes. Ofir and I appear in the podcast at 4:28 into the show.

Thursday Oct 13, 2011

Java Mobile Speaks! Report on our LWUIT accessibility work for Java ME

Over the past year Oracle's Java Mobile team has been building accessibility support into LWUIT, the Lightweight UI Toolkit for Java ME. Last week Ofir Leitner and I gave a presentation on this work at JavaOne.

In a nutshell, this is what we've done in this research project:

In our talk last Thursday at JavaOne, we demonstrated the prototype screen reader providing access to the standard LWUIT "UI Demo" application, running on a Nokia N95 mobile phone. This nearly 5 year old device uses a 332 MHz AOMAP-2420 ARM11-based microprocessor. It is noteworthy that this phone has about 1/4th the processing power of the iPhone 3GS, the first mobile phone to ship with a built-in screen reader and a full accessibility framework. You can download and play a Quicktime movie showing the screen reader speaking the LWUIT UI Demo application running in the Java mobile emulator.

In an interesting coincidence of timing, the day after our JavaOne presentation of this Java mobile accessibility research, the Federal Communications Commission published their Report and Order implementing provisions of Section 104 of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. This order requires that manufacturers of equipment used for "Advanced Communications Services" - things like e-mail and IM and SMS - must make those products and services accessible to people with disabilities by October of 2013. Failing to do so by that date when it was "achievable" to do so subjects the manufacturer and/or service provider with fines of up to $100k/day.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, at the end of 2010 there were 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world. As noted by Mobi Thinking, in their July 2011 report, "Feature phones sales (let alone ownership) still outnumber smartphones 4:1", with less than 300 million of the 1.3 billion mobile phones last year being smartphones. And since most feature phones come with Java, this research has the potential to enable an awful lot of devices to provide accessible user interfaces...

Disclaimer: at this point our work is still research. It is not part of any announced product roadmap. As the standard Oracle presentation disclaimer states, you should not make a purchasing decision based on this research.

Saturday Apr 23, 2011

Java Access Bridge v2.0.2 - for 64-bit systems - released

The Java Access Bridge version 2.0.2 has just been released. This release fixes two key bugs: it adds 64-bit support - including for Windows 7, and it fixes a bug relating to fast/repeated TAB presses sometimes loosing speech with screen readers.

You can get it directly via the Java Access Bridge download link.

Note that in order to support 64-bit platforms - and specifically 64-bit Java runtimes - the bridge need to introduce a "64-bit mode", in addition to the legacy/32-bit mode it continues to use on 32-bit platforms. Assistive technologies - like JAWS and NVDA - will need to be updated in order to use this new mode, and Freedom Scientific already announced that they were updating JAWS with this functionality at the CSUN conference in San Diego last month.

Also as part of work to support this new mode, this release does not include an installer - it must be hand-installed (and we have published detailed installation instructions for this). This is in part because some assistive technologies - like NVDA - are still 32-bit applications when running on 64-bit systems, and will still work unchanged with 32-bit Java runtimes on those systems (using the legacy/32-bit mode). While we expect this to change over time, this meant it wasn't possible to accommodate all possible permutations in an automated installer.

This bridge update - after years of no changes under Sun - underscores Oracle's commitments to both Java and to accessibility.

Friday Mar 11, 2011

If the Wisteria is blooming, it must be time for CSUN...

Every year like clockwork, the Wisteria outside of my bedroom window starts to bloom the week before CSUN. And this year is no different...

This will be my 20th consecutive year of attending - and presenting at - the California State University of Northridge yearly Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities, put on by the capable staff of the Center on Disabilities. And yet after 20 years, I can still clearly remember my very first conference, when I had just started working for Jane Berliss and Berkeley Systems, and at which I gave a presentation on our early outSPOKEN for Windows screen reader work alonside my co-presenter Josh Miele - just one month after my start in the accessibility field!

This year I am attending as part of a somewhat larger company, and I have a slightly different co-presenter...

On Friday March 18th I invite you to join the "Peter and Peter show", as Peter Wallack and I present The Latest in Accessibility of Oracle’s Platform, Technologies and Applications in the Emma B room. Among other things, we'll be talking about the Early Access release of the Java Access Bridge v2.0.2.

I also invited you to attend two interesting sessions from colleagues in the AEGIS project, who will be talking about and showing some of our research work there. AEGIS sessions:

As ever, there will be a ton of other great things happening at the conference - the "must attend" event of the disability technology field. On my calendar for the week are talks in building accessible mobile apps, progress in accessible TV and virtual environments, open source and free access solutions, and a number of the special events and talk. Oh, and also Josh Miele's talk.

See you at CSUN!


Peter Korn


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