Peter Korn’s History of Access API

This past Thursday, long time accessibility advocate, Sun Microsystems Accessibility Architect and one of the smartest and most energetic people you’ll meet in the accessibility business, my friend Peter Korn, wrote an excellent history of accessibility API on his blog.  As Peter has been around this business more than twice as long as I have, he has a lot a terrific experience in this area as well as bearing the scars of many of the battles fought over this stuff.  In addition to the article I reposted by Aaron yesterday, I strongly feel that anybody interested in this topic read peters (link above) article on this matter as well.

It simply wouldn’t feel like reality if I didn’t have some areas of disagreement with Peter.  First off, I noted the he neglected to mention the work done by the ATIA AT/IT quote bits and bytes” working group in which he, Richard, I, Aaron and, very importantly, June Parrot as worked very hard to come up with a harmonized API.  While my involvement in that committee ended years ago, June, especially, served as the scribe and Mary Beth Jaynes, from Apple, served in the capacity that can only be described as somewhat between “den mother” and “referee.”  It’s unfortunate, however, that with AND MBJ’s great contributions Apple Computer seems largely left out by this party..

Next, comes the idea of the the vocabulary wars.  When I describe something using the description, “first generation access technology,” I referred to purely textual based interfaces some of which are still used by people in the GNU/Linux world and if you old timers who have a tattoo on one arm that says quote MOM” and on the other quote DOS.”  When I refer to second-generation access technology, I describe programs that running graphical environments like Windows or gnome.  My idea of third-generation is one which breaks the boundaries a unidimensional, single vocabulary token at a time interfaces, and moves into a multidimensional audio space.

Peter writes, “20 years ago – in 1986 with the inLARGE screen magnifier from Berkeley Systems – the assistive technology industry developed a set of reverse engineering
techniques to determine what desktops and software applications were doing. With the information gleaned from this hackery, these assistive technologies
provided an alternate user interface for people with a variety of disabilities. These techniques in accessing the graphical user interface were part of
a 2nd generation of access – the first generation being access to text-based systems like DOS, C/PM, and Apple II, and the 3rd generation being Accessibility
APIs (you might find my
IDEAS presentation in 2004
a good background on this evolution).”  On further reflection, I agree that peters use of such terminology is correct and I will henceforth refer to my multimodal and multidimensional work as G4.

Otherwise, I find I agree with Peter entirely and I really hope that this new API takes off.

[I have a nasty cold and I dictated this post so please be kind and don’t beat me up about peculiar homophones and other mistakes that Drag in might make while listening to a sick old  fucker like me.]

I’m happy to hear that this new interface is entirely open source and I truly hope that some Macintosh hackers ( are you listening Gabe?  )  And will bring this system over to help make MBJs dream come true.

— end

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Published by


I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

One thought on “Peter Korn’s History of Access API”

  1. Howdy Comrades!
    Hey BC! Your little dragon did just fine. Pat him on the head for me and take some ginseng for your cold. Your recent posts have been fascinating, but I have to spend several hours with my tech trainer each day to figure out what the hell you’re ranting about! Onward through the fog! Regards, Chairman Mal: Power to the Peeps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *