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09 February 2010, 09:45

GNOME Accessibility: Another Sun/Oracle casualty

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The completion of Oracle's acquisition of Sun has lead to an unexpected casualty; GNOME Accessibility. According to an OStatic report, two more members of Sun's Accessibility Program Office were laid off, including the GNOME a11y (accessibility) team lead and Orca Screen Reader project leader, Willie Walker.

Walker says that he is planning on continuing work on GNOME 2.30 as a volunteer so that it can "keep the same ever-increasing quality of accessibility that we have had in our releases". But he notes he will also be searching for a new job. The current plans for GNOME 3.0 a11y are "a lot of work" says Walker and that the developers need to either get it "resourced appropriately or shoot for a different target".

Joanmarie Diggs, an Assistive Technology specialist and GNOME contributor on Orca, described Oracle's decision as "tragic". In her blog she praises Sun's contribution to making computer access possible for many individuals with disabilities through its Accessibility Program Office and says that Oracle's decision threatens to leave those same people "without access to a modern desktop environment". She says that without support from either Oracle or another company "the the accessibility of the GNOME desktop will become the open source equivalent of an unfunded mandate, doomed ultimately to fail."


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