Working together for standards The Web Standards Project


On Monday, IBM officially announced its support for the Dojo Toolkit JavaScript framework. This announcement comes soon after the creation of the Dojo Accessibility email list, and like its other open source donations, IBM’s support for Dojo includes a major emphasis on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Several weeks ago, Dojo project lead Alex Russell and IBM’s Becky Gibson quietly committed the first source code update towards support for dynamic accessible web content. Though widely unnoticed, this update marked an important step for Ajax accessibility and was the first public indication of the IBM endorsement.

However, the Dojo updates center around other IBM-sponsored suggestions to the W3C PF Roadmap, so I was skeptical. Though partially supported in Window Eyes and FireFox, the dynamic content features rely on a set of assumptions not yet standardized. Wondering what made this approach any better than any other proprietary feature update, and slightly worried that IBM was steamrolling the groups for its own benefit, I approached Becky for comment, fully intent on a WaSP sting. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by her explanation.

The justification is that, in addition to going through the proper, open standardization channels within the W3C, the IBM accessibility team wanted to create an adoptable, practical solution. The approach offers an open forum for feedback while attempting to create a de facto standard with a relatively-short adoption timeline. The reason for creating these concurrently is that practical challenges in the working examples can feed back into corrections for the standardization drafts in progress and, in the meantime, developers and disabled users can benefit from a real working solution.

More improvements in JavaScript accessibility and usability are in the works. Keep you eyes peeled for developments from the W3C WebAPI and PF Groups, as well as coming updates from the other major scripting libraries.

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#1 On June 6th, 2006 7:19 am