SUN brings power of JAVA to users with disabilities

Java Accessibility API Supports Assistive Technologies Including Screen Readers and Braille Terminals

Last Update: Monday, 29-May-2006 06:13:09 PDT

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From SUNFLASH of the 23.07.1997.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - July 23, 1997 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. today
announced the preview specification for its JavaTM Accessibility API,
which will enable Java developers to write applications that many more
of America's 40 million people with disabilities can immediately access
and use.  The Java Accessibility API is designed to allow assistive
technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech
recognition systems and Braille terminals to access Java applications.
It is available for public review at

The Java Accessibility API was created through an open design process based on input from licensees and developers, as well as experts in the assistive technology field. Java Accessibility is one of the core foundation services in the Java Foundation Classes, a comprehensive set of graphical user interface components and foundation services designed to simplify development of Internet, intranet and desktop applications.

"The Java Accessibility API was designed to allow people with disabilities greater access to the world of Web technology -- both at home and in the workplace," said Jon Kannegaard, vice president of software products at JavaSoft, a business unit of Sun Microsystems, Inc. "For example, a developer can now create a single application to be used by users with and without disabilities at the same time."

Java developers will be able to start creating applications that support the Java Accessibility API immediately. These Accessibility-enabled applications will run seamlessly on Java-enabled machines that do not require assistive technology support. In addition, technologies developed using the Java Accessibility API will enable further advances in Java computing in areas outside of accessibility. For example, using the Java Accessibility API to refine speech recognition capabilities will enable developers to create nomadic applications that do not rely on either touch or vision.

The Java Accessibility API and all the features of the Java Foundation Classes will become part of the next version of the Java Development Kit (JDKTM), due later this year. More information on the Java Accessibility API can be found on the Java Foundation Classes Web page at Further details can be found at Sun's Accessibility site:

Java Internet Business Expo

JavaSM Internet Business ExpoSM takes place August 25-28, 1997 in New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The Java industry will converge on this event to showcase the latest applications and solutions that take Java beyond the desktop -- from consumer electronic devices to enterprise-wide Java-based computing. For more information, or to register, visit or call 888-528-2397

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American Council for the Blind
"I applaud Sun's leadership and approach to making Java accessible," said Brian Charlson, first vice president at American Council for the Blind. "Sun is designing accessibility directly into the Java Platform, rather than retrofitting it as an afterthought. Java licensees should work with Sun to make their implementations of Java accessible, and follow Sun's leadership in Java Accessibility. The blind community does not need multiple approaches to making Java Accessible."

Contact: Brian Charlson
American Council for the Blind

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
"I am particularly encouraged that Sun is developing the Java Accessibility API from the ground up as an integral part of Java, and not as an afterthought and retrofit," said Janina Sajka, director, Information Systems at American Foundation for the Blind. "We're looking forward with growing excitement to the products that will result from their efforts. The 'pluggable' user interface that will be enabled by Sun's work may well prove the most usable yet created for people who are blind. Since bits and bytes do not intrinsically discriminate against anyone, it is only right that communication and information architectures based on bits and bytes should also include everyone who has the desire to learn and contribute. Sun's efforts and dedication are turning these principles into tangible reality. This is truly an exciting prospect for people whose only good access to information is a well-adapted computer."

Contact: Janina Sajka
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Apple Computer
"When Apple founded the industry's first Disability Solutions Group in 1985, it acknowledged that the personal computer, like no other tool before it, enabled kids and adults with disabilities not just to do something faster or more efficiently, but in many cases to do something...period.

Today, Apple Computer, Inc., is pleased to support Sun Microsystems in its effort to help make the Internet universally accessible. The Internet -- which provides unprecedented access to information and creative avenues of expression -- is a distinctively powerful tool for individuals with disabilities. The 'Java Accessibility API' helps build 'electronic curbcuts' into the Internet, making it a place that is more open, more friendly, and more useable by people with a range of abilities.

Apple looks forward to working with Sun in the continued development and implementation of the 'Java Accessibility API' and other tools that enable the Internet to be easily used by kids and adults who are disabled."

Contact: Russell Brady
Apple Computer, Inc.

Blazie Engineering
"We are very impressed with Sun Microsystems' efforts to build support for accessibility into Java right from the beginning," said Deane Blazie, president of Blazie Engineering. "Sun is building a Java Accessibility API based on the needs of, and feedback from, the Assistive Technology community. Furthermore, the 'pluggable' user interface architecture allows us to build alternative interfaces such as audio and Braille, so that applications can be directly accessible for the first time, without the need for screen readers to interpret the visual contents of the display. With the Accessibility API and the pluggable user interface architecture, Java is definitely the best way to go for the disability community."

Contact: Deane Blazie
Blazie Engineering

"IBM Special Needs Systems has been working with Sun's accessibility group to build next-generation accessibility into Java," said Rich Schwerdtfeger, Lead Architect, IBM Special Needs Systems. "Sun's announcement of the Java Foundation Classes supporting accessibility is a statement to the industry that open-standards accessibility is not considered an afterthought, but as an important component starting with the initial design. IBM endorses Sun's 100% Pure Java accessibility efforts, and we will continue to work with Sun to ensure that future versions of Java have accessibility features that can be used by application developers to access-enable their applications, independent of operating system or platform."

Contact: Judy Radlinsky
IBM Corp.

Netscape Communications Corp.
"Netscape is committed to supporting the disabled community by providing products and features that enable disabled people to leverage the power of the Internet," said Rick Schell, senior vice president of client and platform products division at Netscape Communications Corporation. "By developing the Java Accessibility API, JavaSoft is providing the underlying technologies in Java that make these features possible. Netscape plans to leverage the new Java Accessibility API to deliver powerful capabilities for the disabled in our future products."

Contact: Andrea Cook
Netscape Communications Corp.

University of Toronto
"The Java Foundation Classes have the potential to be the most accessible and flexible user interface system to date," said Jutta Treviranus, manager, Adaptive Technology Resource Centre Information Commons. By virtue of separating the presentation and control from the underlying logical structure, the Java Foundation Classes encourage applications which accommodate the very diverse interface needs of computer users. Sun's open design process helps to ensure user responsive products. The Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto is pleased to be part of this design process, assisting Sun in making JFC-based applications barrier-free to people with disabilities."

Contact: Jutta Treviranus
University of Toronto

University of Wisconsin (Trace Research and Development Center)
"Sun is to be commended for its efforts to solicit input from the disability community starting relatively early in Java's development," said Gregg Vanderheiden, professor of Human Factors/Industrial Engineering, University of Wisconsin and director of Trace Research and Development Center. "They have also acted on this early input, have made changes to the core class libraries, and have now introduced the first version of the Java Accessibility API. Particularly notable is Sun's effort to work on both direct accessibility (where Java applets and applications would be directly usable by people with disabilities), and with enhancing the compatibility of Java applets and applications with screen readers and other assistive technologies used by people with disabilities."

Contact: Gregg Vanderheiden
University of Wisconsin (Trace Research and Development Center)

About Sun

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision, "The Network Is The ComputerTM" has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc., (NASDAQ "SUNW") to it position as a leading provider of hardware, software and services for establishing enterprise-wide intranets and expanding the power of the Internet. With more than $8 billion in annual revenues, Sun can be found in more than 150 countries and on the Worldwide Web at

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