Thursday Oct 24, 2013

Exit stage right...

I joined Sun Microsystems in December of 1996, not quite 17 years ago. Over the course of those years, it has been my great pleasure and honor to work with a many talented folks, on a many incredible projects - first at Sun, and then at Oracle.

In those nearly 17 years, we made quite a few platforms and products accessible - including Java, GNOME, Solaris, and Linux. We pioneered many of the accessibility techniques that are now used throughout the industry, including accessibility API techniques which first appeared in the Java and GNOME accessibility APIs; and screen access techniques like the API-based switch access of the GNOME Onscreen Keyboard. Our work was recognized as groundbreaking by many in the industry, both through awards for the innovations we had delivered (such as those we received from the American Foundation for the Blind), and awards of money to develop new innovations (the two European Commission accessibility grants we received). Our knowledge and expertise contributed to the first Section 508 accessibility standard, and provided significantly to the upcoming refresh of that standard, to the European Mandate 376 accessibility standard, and to a number of web accessibility standards.

After 17 years of helping Sun and Oracle accomplish great things, it is time to start a new chapter... Today is my last day at Oracle. It is not, however, my last day in the field of accessibility. Next week I will begin working with another group of great people, and I am very much looking forward to the great things I will help contribute to in the future.

Starting tomorrow, please follow me on my new, still under constriction, Wordpress blog:

Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

See Oracle at CSUN!

As we have been doing for more than a decade, the Oracle accessibility team is returning to the Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (also known as the CSUN conference). This year Oracle is proud to be one of the conference sponsors. We are also hosting 4 sessions and participating in a fifth:
  1. Oracle Accessibility News on Wednesday, February 27, at 10:40am in the Edward AB room
  2. Accessibility in the ARIA-Enabled Siebel CRM on Wednesday, February 27, at 1:50pm in the Edward AB room
  3. Fixing Web Pages using JavaScript on Thursday, February 28, 10:40am in the Edward AB room
  4. Java Platform Accessibility: Java 7, JavaFX on Friday, March 1 4:20pm in the Manchester H room
  5. Panel: Inclusive Mobile for Everyone-Challenges on Thursday at 1:50pm in the Manchester B room (IBM's room)
If you are in San Diego February 27th through March 1st, please stop by one of our sessions and say "hello".

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!

Tuesday Mar 30, 2010

New color, same passion

As is very old news by now, Oracle purchased Sun at the end of January. Life has been pretty busy these past few weeks - meeting all of my new colleagues, meeting the various Directors and VPs whose teams I'll be working with, and otherwise learning the ropes and IT systems here at Oracle. Hence the break in blogging (other things were always higher priority).

At Sun, the Accessibility Program Office was part of the "xDesign" organization - a group focused on the user experience of our products - and also focused expressly on our software's visual appearance. Soon after it was announced that Oracle would be acquiring Sun, our Director began an all-hands meeting with the hex code: "0xFF0000". This was both a metaphor about the change that was coming (Oracle purchasing us, not "Big Blue"), and also a statement about Oracle's color scheme. Oracle red is 100% red -> 255 for red (or 0xFF), and 0 for green and blue. Among the visual designers, this led to a spirited discussion about how one can make use of that color in a larger color scheme...

In the 9 weeks since Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun, I've found a few other things (besides the corporate color) that are different here at Oracle. But one thing is absolutely the same: the passion that the accessibility folks have for their work. At Oracle, I'm privileged to be working with a core group that is intensely focused on and passionate about ensuring that all of Oracle's products are accessible - so that the many folks with disabilities who are our customers are able to efficiently and productively get their jobs done.

And that intensity and passion - and belief in the importance of accessibility - isn't limited to my immediate colleagues. Like Sun, Oracle has accessibility experts scattered throughout the company. Embedded in the various product teams, these folks likewise care passionately about ensuring the Oracle products and technologies they are working on are accessible - if for no other reason than the very products we sell are the ones we use internally: for filing our expenses and for ordering new computers and for getting our salary information. And these employees would very much like those apps to work with their screen readers and screen magnifiers!

Further, going beyond Oracle's accessibility engineers & QA staff, Oracle has made powerful commitments to accessibility from its very senior leadership. Two quotes - from Oracle President & CEO Safra Catz, and from Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven - state this commitment clearly and unambiguously:

"Oracle is committed to creating accessible technologies and products that enhance the overall workplace environment and contribute to the productivity of our employees, our customers, and our customers' customers."

—Safra Catz, President and CFO, Oracle


"Oracle's business is information—how to manage it, use it, share it, protect it. Our commitment to create products that simplify, standardize and automate extends to all users, including users who are disabled."

—Edward Screven, Chief Corporate Architect, Oracle

These quotes, and a ton of information about accessibility at Oracle, can be found at the home of Oracle's Accessibility Program.

Welcome to the new color!

Friday Jun 20, 2008

Friday silliness - a bizarre "electronic curb cut" use of Oracle

One of the points folks in the accessibility community often make (me among them) is that accessibility features are useful to and used by folks who don't have a disability (or have perhaps a "situational disability"). This is termed an "electronic curb cut", stemming from the observation that the cuts in the curbs of our sidewalks placed there so that folks in wheelchairs can easily cross streets are used far more by delivery people and parents with strollers and bicyclists and so on. Similarly then, uses of electronic accessibility features by folks without the specific disabilities they were designed for are making use of "electronic curb cuts".

Today I came across a bizarre use of an electronic curb cut... installation of the Oracle database system by someone in a straight jacket, using nothing but their nose. The purpose of the video was to demonstrate that Oracle installation is not a particularly difficult or time consuming a task (as apparently an Oracle competitor had claimed) - that it can be done "with more than one hand tied behind ones back" (rather literally), and done so pretty quickly and efficiently.

Not only does the video make their point about Oracle installation in a silly way, it also speaks rather well to the purpose language in the current Section 508 accessibility guidelines: "Section 508 requires that...Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities...". As the video shows, with Oracle's support for mouseless operation, combined with the StickyKeys feature of the underlying OS, someone who can only press a single key at a time (perhaps with their nose) can install the Oracle database. And in fact, can do so pretty quickly for a task as complex as database installation (in something like 45 minutes, with the bulk of the time consumed NOT by keystroke entry but by the install process).

I wonder if the next video in this sequence will show the installer wearing a blindfold, and use a screen reader to make their point...


Peter Korn


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