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ODF Accessibility Test Tool

Students at the University of Illinois are developing an ODF Accessibility Evaluator:

“The ODF Accessibility Analyzer is a tool to be employed by users of OpenDocument Format-compatible authoring tools to ensure that a document in this format, be it text, spreadsheet, presentation, etc., is accessible to people with disabilities. The Analyzer will adhere to the ODF specification, as put forth by the OASIS organization.”

Files can be uploaded to the page linked above for analysis.

Peter Korn of Sun analyzes the project and its potential impact:

“To the best of my knowledge, tools like this only exist for three types of files: HTML files, PDF files, and now ODF files. Perhaps that is because HTML, PDF/A, and ODF are open standards which contain a lot of accessibility features put there through the thoughtful evaluation of and feedback from a community of accessibility experts.”

Last year’s attacks on ODF for not being accessible enough (though it’s still debatable whether they were valid at all), have been turned from showcasing a weakness, to a strength for ODF.

An open standard can be quickly improved or supported by stakeholders or interested parties that might come from anywhere–if it had been Microsoft’s format being criticized in this way, there is no way that a third-party group of students could have helped solve the problem, because Microsoft’s own licensing would bar them from getting involved.

ODF’s accessibility features are improving so quickly due to community support, that they are going to blow away the options Microsoft offers. Soon the disabled community will be much better served by open source than their current tools, and I look forward to welcoming yet another group of allies to the open source and open standards camp!

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