Interesting article in eweek this week by Darryl Taft on how Microsoft has joined up with other technology companies to "collaborate on creating IT products for the disabled." More on the new Accessibility Interoperability Alliance can also be found here in this PR, noting the four projects that they will initially work on:

  • Consistent keyboard access. Developing a set of keyboard shortcuts to provide consistent behavior to users of assistive technology products in any Web browser
  • Interoperability of accessibility APIs. Modifying and/or extending existing accessibility models (Microsoft UI Automation, IAccessible2 and others) to improve the interoperability and exchange of information between IT and assistive technology (AT) products
  • UI Automation extensions. Adding features and capabilities to support additional rich document scenarios, address new Web scenarios and more.
  • Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (ARIA) mapping through UI Automation. Designing the mapping of rich Web accessibility information through UI Automation to ensure maximum value for AT products and, therefore, for people with disabilities

"Today, developers must work across divergent platforms, application environments and hardware models to create accessible technology for customers with disabilities," said Rob Sinclair, director of the Accessibility Business Unit at Microsoft. "The AIA is an opportunity for the entire industry to come together to reduce the cost and complexity of accessibility, increase customer satisfaction, foster inclusive innovation, and reinforce a sustainable ecosystem of accessible technology products."

More information about the AIA can be found at http://www.AccessInteropAlliance.org