Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

MA To Adopt Short-Term Plug-in Strategy for ODF 124

feminazi writes "Massachusetts is committed to saving documents in Open Document Format. Massachusetts is also committed to using applications that are accessible. Therefore, the Jan. 1, 2007, deadline for the executive branch to begin using applicationsv that default to ODF is being postponed until the applications can be proven to be accessible. 'Instead, the state will on a near-term basis adopt a plug-in strategy to fulfill its policy calling for executive-branch agencies to make use of ODF ... ITD will be following through with testing of the ODF plug-ins in preparation for a phased rollout, expected to begin later this year.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MA To Adopt Short-Term Plug-in Strategy for ODF

Comments Filter:
  • Accessibility of ODF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:08AM (#15949163) Homepage
    To the best of my knowledge, OO.o works well with all accessibility aids that work across all programs in the operating system. It is true that there are a few applications which only work with Microsoft Office (and, particularly, only work with Word), but it is my impression that those tools are in the minority. However, where are the holes? Why can't the disabled use some of these other applications (just as other workers are being asked to use StarOffice or OO.o instead of MS Office)?

    This article begs other questions too:

    Who will be making the decision (presumably the accessibility lab of ITD)? By what criteria will they make it? Is there a deadline for the decision? Can the ODF plugin for Office be configured to save ODF by default?
    • by JerkBoB ( 7130 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @12:11PM (#15949583)
      This article begs other questions too:

      No, it doesn't. It raises other questions, though.

      http://begthequestion.info/ [begthequestion.info]
      • Oh, come off it. "Begging the question" is an idiom anyway, which doesn't follow the literal interpretation of the words themselves. The OPs comment uses it as an idiom which actually pretty closely matches the literal meaning of the individual words.

        Evolution of language should perhaps be slowed in some cases, but this is rediculous. Correcting people for such a minor (and perhaps more popular than the original usage) infraction of idiomatic usage just makes you look like an ass.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Fnkmaster ( 89084 )
          I think you meant "ridiculous", not "rediculous". :)
        • Also, from the page in question:

          While descriptivists and other such laissez-faire linguists are content to allow the misconception to fall into the vernacular, it cannot be denied that logic and philosophy stand to lose an important conceptual label should the meaning of BTQ become diluted to the point that we must constantly distinguish between the traditional usage and the erroneous "modern" usage. This is why we fight.

          Clearly the page is partially tongue in cheek, but I do think it's a fair point.
          • It may be a fair point to hold to traditional usage in many cases, but I'm not entirely sure this particular case is very worthy at all. It seems like a misconception to people schooled in the jargon of formalized debate, but it is quite obviously used by people who aren't familiar with such. So it could be a misconception (though you have to twist up language quite a bit for it to become so), but it could also be a case of parallel idiomatic evolution.

            Why the hell does "begging the question" mean recursi
            • because it begs the listener to accept the conclusion (the "question") in the same way you normally beg them to accept the premises before beginning to discuss the argument.

              It's one of my pet peeves because it is a well-understood and not uncommon fallacy; if people start to use "begging the question" to mean "raises the question" then we'll need a new word for the fallacy of begging the question. So that misuse is not just an innocuous misunderstanding, it steps on a perfectly useful concept. I don't w

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Alef ( 605149 )
              I'm not sure to what extent it matters to you, but one other reason not to use "begs the question" instead of "raises the question" is that you'll come off as someone who tries to sound smarter than s/he really is, if the reader is familiar with the original meaning of the idiom. Pretentious of them? Perhaps. But I often find it hard myself to avoid instinctively thinking "idiot" at some subconscious level whenever I encounter similar errors. And then you'll have a much harder time trying to convince your o
          • I don't see what's wrong with it. The original phrase is stupid and confusing: the phrase "circular logic" is vastly superior. "Begs the question" derives from a peculiar archaic translation of a latin phrase. There is no reason to keep the old phrase around except mindless tradition. With words like "hacker" or "intellectual property," there are side factors. Intellectual property overstates the role of things like copyright and hack is a word with a fairly deep and meaningful background. But begs the ques
        • I'm curious to know what your take on the word "hacker" is, or whether intellectual property infringement is considered "theft."
          • I think I've been pretty clear on my position in the latter case in my various postings to slashdot, and I don't really care what the first word means. It is invariably trotted out by people who want to stir up controversy. It has become useless.

            For those who like its "original" definition with respect to electronics, there is a much better word, "tinkerer" which gets across all of the meaning with none of the ambiguity. For the "black-hat" definition, I think "vandal," "evesdropper," and "spy" are appro
        • oh, come off it. "Begging the question" is an idiom anyway, which doesn't follow the literal interpretation of the words themselves. The OPs comment uses it as an idiom which actually pretty closely matches the literal meaning of the individual words.

          Evolution of language should perhaps be slowed in some cases, but this is rediculous. Correcting people for such a minor (and perhaps more popular than the original usage) infraction of idiomatic usage just makes you look like an ass.

          The misuse of "begging the

      • by XzQuala ( 950050 )
        Shut up.

        I absolutely abhor seeing people try to correct intelligent usage of that phrase. Maybe at one time it meant what you WANT it to mean, but that original meaning is stupid, and noone cares. Language is the art of communicating, NOT of memorizing. If a group of words makes more sense in one definition than another, then guess what? It just got redefined.
      • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) *
        Nobody is confused when someone says "begs" instead of "raises".
      • by Guuge ( 719028 )
        No, it doesn't. It raises other questions, though.

        No, it doesn't. It invites those questions. The slashdot poster raised the questions.

        raise [reference.com] versus invite [reference.com]

        • by JerkBoB ( 7130 )
          No, it doesn't. It invites those questions. The slashdot poster raised the questions.
          Touché, sir! I realized my mistake after I posted, but I wondered if anyone would call me on it. :)
    • by OpenDoc ( 996845 )
      The ODF Plug-in can be configured to be the default MSOffice file format. It's also true that since the ODF Plug-in works within MSOffice, there is no problem with the Accessibility Add Ons. Nor is there a problem with MSOffice bound business processes. The ODF Plug-in works in a very transparent and non disruptive way. So transparent that if users are not looking at the file format eXtensions, they wouldn't know they are working directly in OpenDocument. The important thing is that with the ODF Plug-i
      • If the plugin saves to ODF by default, why don't they switch immediately? The resolution was on using that file format and using a suite which would produce it by default--NOT to switch the state to OO.o.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by OpenDoc ( 996845 )
          The ODF Plug-in is still a work in progress. The completion date is January 2007. It's worth noting that Massachusetts is now doing things with the ODF Plug-in prototype that go beyond the original RFi. For instance, an "accessibility interface" has been added. The interface simply reads through the document elements and provides the user with a pop up dialog to describe graphical objects such as pictures, graphs, tables, sub set comments, etc. These descriptives are put into the new accessibility tags a
  • Delayed rollout (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Recovering Hater ( 833107 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:08AM (#15949166)
    The article stated that the delay was based in part on the fact that the major open source solutions for odf like OpenOffice do not yet support magnifiers and screen readers needed by people with disabilities. I wonder how long it will take for those functions to become a part of the open source office suites out there? Just a question. I am really hoping Mass will roll out open source office software and prove that it is indeed as robust and useful as Microsoft office. Like that isn't the general attitude around here.
    • Re:Delayed rollout (Score:5, Interesting)

      by archen ( 447353 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:52AM (#15949462)
      Why are screen magnifiers a part of an office suite anyway? This should be done by the Operating system (windowing system or whatever). You just make the application more complicated and do a piss poor job of really overcomming the problem. For instance you magnify the office suite text, then cut and paste it somewhere else but then have problems reading it because the magnifacation ONLY works for the office suite.

      OSX has built in support for screen magnifacation and can read any text you select. I'm pretty sure windows 2000 and higher can do the same.
      • by VENONA ( 902751 )
        You already have some support for this under KDE, via Kmag. But it's just a magnifier. Highlighting text, for instance, is still done in the application you're magnifying. Using it takes a bit of getting used to, and it has problems with update speed. Overall, I'd call it too clunky to use in the case of my-eyes-are-fried-after-fourteen-hours-in-a-text- e ditor, where you can just enlarge the font a bit. In the case of a true accessibility issue, I don't know if I'd still say that, though. It might be horrib
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Why are screen magnifiers a part of an office suite anyway?

        Screen magnifiers shouldn't be. Windows (XP, probably 2K also) has a built-in magnifier tool that works on any displayed graphics, whatever program it is. (I suppose it might not work with DirectX and video overlays, but that's beside the point.)

        Windows also has a screen reader, which I suspect is the problem. OOo's UI needs to be designed to accomodate a screen reader, so that text in dialogs appears to the user as text in dialogs instead of a rand
        • by Alsee ( 515537 )
          a built-in magnifier tool that works on any displayed graphics, whatever program it is. (I suppose it might not work with DirectX and video overlays, but that's beside the point.)

          No, it's not beside the point! My word processor only works with DirectX 10.1 3D accelleration video overlays, you insensitive clod!

          -
        • by Nurgled ( 63197 )

          Hidden controls aren't really necessary, since Windows has an API specifically designed for providing information to assistive technologies. An app that draws its own controls just needs to implement the necessary discovery interfaces and a properly-written screen reader should function properly with it.

          Admittedly, the hidden control solution would probably be easier for something as simple as Solitaire.

    • Re:Delayed rollout (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:58AM (#15949505) Homepage
      I wonder how long it will take for those functions to become a part of the open source office suites out there?

      I wonder how long it will take for them to come out with specialized office suites for those with disabilities instead of bolt on solutions to existing office suites. An application with a GUI doesn't make much sense for someone who is blind. Creating a new office suite specifically for use by those with disabilities would make a lot more sense then trying to bolt on something to existing office suites.
      • by orasio ( 188021 )
        Probably vi + latex are a lot better for a blind/almost blind person than winword, because they are not visual at all, and you can perform lots of functions without looking at the text.
        But we don't see anyone making accesible extensions.
        Probably blind people and their advisors feel better buying the easy word processor that everybody uses, from a well-known software company, with some accesibility enhancement, than using a tool that probably adapts better to them, but isn't "easy to use". If they have troub
      • Actually, that would be an interesting market for OO. I would think that there are groups out there that are pretty good at this, who might be interested in supporting OO.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      I wonder how long it will take for those functions to become a part of the open source office suites out there?

      I know that questioning the motives of the disabled is a non-no; but I do wonder how much of this whole "Only MSOffice supports the disabled" spoiler routine is supported, encouraged and even (indirectly no doubt) funded by Microsoft?

  • by Jahz ( 831343 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:09AM (#15949170) Homepage Journal
    But the only office applications that could do that -- such as the open-source OpenOffice and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s StarOffice -- are not fully supported by the major screen readers and magnifiers that people with disabilities use.

    Well hopefully this will cause the OO.org people to add support for such devices very quickly. That would be a net gain for the suite and also show MA that community supported software can work and tailor to their needs.

    On another note... this should read "Microsoft Office Granted Temporary Injunction in MA"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      I was under the impression that screen magnifiers magnified the screen regardless of which application was being shown on the screen. I also thought that screen readers read text on the screen, regardless of the application displaying the text. If they are application specific, I have been very misinformed. I also think that if this is the case, these applications (screen readers and magnifiers) are complete crap, and not worth a cent, and we should abolish them all, and start over with some tools that pr
      • I also thought that screen readers read text on the screen, regardless of the application displaying the text

        That depends on how the text is being rendered. If it is using the windowing system's standard text widgets, then it is possible for something that puts hooks in them to just read anything that is displayed. If, on the other hand, it just asks for a canvas, and draws text on it as if it were an image, then it is much harder for the reader to work out exactly what should be read. In this case, th

      • by Jahz ( 831343 )
        Honestly I don't even know. I just hope that the community does what it can to fix the root of this delay.
  • by macurmudgeon ( 900466 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:10AM (#15949175) Homepage
    While the concept of accessibility is incredibly important, JAWS, the most used screen reader is totally tied to Microsoft products. Did Microsoft come back through the back door with accessibility to derail the Open Format initiative?

    On the other hand, maybe this will give some impetus for Open Office to get into bed with the accessibility people.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Accissibility is very much a front-door concern. It is the software equivilant of a wheelchair ramp.
      • Parent implies that the concern for accessibility is only a pretext; the aim is really the perpetuation of Microsoft file formats (and thus microsoft software)

    • by guabah ( 968691 )

      While the concept of accessibility is incredibly important, JAWS, the most used screen reader is totally tied to Microsoft products. Did Microsoft come back through the back door with accessibility to derail the Open Format initiative?

      In short, yes

      But at least some Open Source software, including Firefox, works with the latest version of JAWS. So does the proprietary Adobe Reader. What I don't know is how hard for Sun and the rest of OOo contributors to work with Freedom Scientific(Makers of JAWS) to

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yuna49 ( 905461 )
      No, I think it was bad politics on the part of the MA executive agency that brought forth ODF in the first place.

      First, state agencies have affirmative responsibilities to hire people with disabilities, so they make up a large fraction of the workforce in state agencies than they do in the private sector. Second, in a state like MA, many groups like the disabled are quite powerful, especially when combined with strong public sector unions. That they were not brought into the process from the beginning was
    • by Locutus ( 9039 )
      And HERE is Microsofts power play. They can, and probably already did, contact these companies and persuaded them to not support OO.o or any ODF products. All done by a simple phone call or personal meeting( no records ) where Micrsoft people discuss how future versions of MS-Office or MS-Windows could have 'problems' with the companies screen readers is they support ODF products.

      They've done something like this with HP in the last few years regarding Linux based products so don't think for a minute they wo
  • by chrisbtoo ( 41029 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:10AM (#15949184) Homepage Journal
    ... they're saying that they won't necessarily be adopting OpenOffice.org software for their users with disabilities, instead allowing them to use plugins with MS Office.

    That seems like good news - Microsoft needs to produce such plugins in order to keep doing business with the state; users get a choice in the software they use; and nobody's locked in to a proprietary document format.

    Result!
    • by Jahz ( 831343 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:18AM (#15949239) Homepage Journal
      True, but remember this is a phased rollout. The ODF plug-ins should be limited to people with disabilities. In the private sector I really would'nt care, however as a resident of MA, I think differently. You and I both know that VERY few people will switch to OO.org if MS Office is allowed to stay. I want Office removed from the default install of MA government machines. Maybe just give excel, etc to people who REALLY need it. That software is expensive, and the costs for ten or hundreds of thousands of site-licensed machines is enourmous. MA is a cash strapped right now. That money is better spent fixing their collapsing tunnel system [boston.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chrisbtoo ( 41029 )
        FTFA:

        Winske said that Gutierrez told the group there would be no mass migration to open-source Office applications until they are proven to be accessible.

        I guess it remains to be seen whether "no mass migration" really means "not everyone will be migrated" or "nobody will be migrated". For your and your fellow taxpayers' sakes, one would hope it's the former.

        It would seem like a logical thing to do would be to outfit a few departments with no disabled (I guess we're really talking about blind and partially-

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ray-auch ( 454705 )
          It would seem like a logical thing to do would be to outfit a few departments with no disabled (I guess we're really talking about blind and partially-sighted) people with OOo, and hold back their licences for new people who do need MS Office.


          You can't do that. Anymore than you can stick "a few departments with no disabled" in an inaccessible building.

          It is also entirely likely that they want to maintain one platform (for deployment, maintenance, training and support reasons) rather than multiple (and the
          • You can't do that. Anymore than you can stick "a few departments with no disabled" in an inaccessible building.

            There's a degree of difference between the 2 situations, but in the process of formulating my disagreement with you, I actually find myself conceding the point here.

            It is also entirely likely that they want to maintain one platform (for deployment, maintenance, training and support reasons) rather than multiple (and the cost of multiple may well outweigh any MS licence savings).

            Would it really, tho

        • But if the plugin works, there's really no reason they must switch from MS, is there? I mean the goal is to store everything in ODF so that taxpayers can read it with that they like, not for the state to necessarily switch to open source word processors, right?
          • But if the plugin works, there's really no reason they must switch from MS, is there? I mean the goal is to store everything in ODF so that taxpayers can read it with that they like, not for the state to necessarily switch to open source word processors, right?

            Well, I'd expect the state to use a cost-effective way of producing the documents.

            If the MS Office licences are already paid for, I'd say there's a good chance that sticking with MS Office is a the most cost-effective way of doing it.

            If you're adding

          • Speaking (Well, posting) as a Taxachusetts resident and taxpayer, I would like to state that I don't want the commonwealth to spend money on software when they do not need to, especially when there are free/free alternatives available.

            Thank you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        and the costs for ten or hundreds of thousands of site-licensed machines is enourmous

        Aren't these sunk costs? Aren't these hundreds of thousands of machines already licensed?

        Plus, as a MASS resident who has seen the state screw up almost everything it touches (see collapsing tunnel system link in the OP), I am not looking forward to MA doing a huge rollout of this new infrastucture. History tells me it will a) suck and b) cost me a lot of money. Now I'm not saying migrating to OSS/ODF is a bad idea; I
        • Hey, don't worry. I hear the folks in charge of the switch know they guy who will be doing it. In fact they may be related. Should go well! </sarcasm>

          - Another pissed off Massachusetts citizen...

        • by Jahz ( 831343 )

          Aren't these sunk costs? Aren't these hundreds of thousands of machines already licensed?

          Plus, as a MASS resident who has seen the state screw up almost everything it touches (see collapsing tunnel system link in the OP), I am not looking forward to MA doing a huge rollout of this new infrastucture. History tells me it will a) suck and b) cost me a lot of money. Now I'm not saying migrating to OSS/ODF is a bad idea; I just don't think state governments (and especially MY state government) should be the trai

          • Are you kidding about being from NY, or about Go Yankees, because, frankly, I don't think the Yankees need any encouragement after they busted out the whupping stick this weekend.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:17AM (#15949228)
    Why not let people who don't need accessibility use the cheap 'inaccessible' applications, and let the 5% who need accessibility use the "MS Office with a plugin" option?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by musikit ( 716987 )
      i donno... if you've ever worked in government you'd know that 100% of government is disabled.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by l2718 ( 514756 )

      Why not let people who don't need accessibility use the cheap 'inaccessible' applications, and let the 5% who need accessibility use the "MS Office with a plugin" option?

      Doing this would require IT support for two software applications (i.e. MS-Office and OpenOffice.org) which creates various complications. It's much simpler from the technical side to only give the users one application for each task the need to accomplish. In this way state-wide IT policy is very different from a home office install.

      • Meh -- it's not abnormal for a few people in an organization to have special software that IT needs to support. E.g. developers have lots of software that salespersons don't have, and vice-versa.

        Presumably, there aren't scores of (nearly-)blind people working for the MA government, so the proportion of those with MS-Office + plugin should be really low. The trick is that you should have a doctor-verified vision disability to warrant the most expensive product - not just a don't-wanna-learn disability.
        • The trick is that you should have a doctor-verified vision disability to warrant the most expensive product - not just a don't-wanna-learn disability.

          You're discriminating against the motivationally challenged!
      • Doing this would require IT support for two software applications (i.e. MS-Office and OpenOffice.org) which creates various complications. It's much simpler from the technical side to only give the users one application for each task the need to accomplish.

        Keep in mind that we are talking about a group of disabled workers who use accessibility software to do their tasks. They have already diverged rather significantly from the standard IT environment. And I would suspect that supporting this particular

  • by illtron ( 722358 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:21AM (#15949262) Homepage Journal
    You know, I really hate it when people use postal abbreviations on anything other than addresses. Reading the headline for this, I had no clue what MA was until I read the digest below. That's not a huge chore or anything, but the fact remains that it would have been much clearer from the beginning if they had just abbreviaed it Mass., which is the normally accepted abbreviation. I'm willing to be flexible on stuff like this, but these postal abbreviations were never meant to be used in the context of a paragraph or even sentence of text. Imagine if it was PA... Pennsylvania? Port Authority? Palestinian Authority? Mass. is obvious. Pa. is correct for AP style and others, and Penn. is almost unmistakable in context. Am I being too pedantic?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Am I being too pedantic?

      Yes
    • "MA" is Korean for, "Hey ma, what're you whining about?"

      ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Soft ( 266615 )
      the fact remains that it would have been much clearer from the beginning if they had just abbreviaed it Mass., which is the normally accepted abbreviation.

      Seconded by a non-US resident, who may know the general location of Massachusetts but doesn't have a clue about all those two-letter abbreviations.

      • Two-letter abbreviations were instituted at the same time as ZIP codes, back in the 70s. They standardized the way that states were abbreviated. For example, you could have Texas, Tex., Tx., et cetera. Does Ma. mean Maine or Massachusetts?
    • Am I being too pedantic?
      Not at ALl. You mAKe soME good poINts, aND your ARguMEnt is VAlID.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chonine ( 840828 )
      OK
    • by moyix ( 412254 )
      My guess is that the submitter/editor just couldn't remember the spelling. That's my most common reason for abbreviating Massachuss... Masachussett... um, MA. :)
  • Accessibility FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:31AM (#15949339)
    It is clear pro-Microsoft move. I just don't buy accessibility argument for few reasons, mentioned bellow:
    1) It is clear, that if MA would start to addopt OpenOffice/StarOffice, without doubt there would be plentful of small programming companies who would like to provide plugins/additional apps with OpenOffice.org support. Addoption is slow thingy in any case, so while pilot would be done, access apps would be already aviable. It is just matter of signal what MA sends to software companies;
    2) And it is bullocks that Sun itself can't provide accessiblity features/addons to SunOffice. Sun has been big pioneer in this and I think it is clearly "if it doesn't work with Microsoft tools, it doesn't work at all" attitude we see here;

    Of course, just my 2 cents
    • by Otter ( 3800 )
      I just don't buy accessibility argument for few reasons...

      It doesn't matter whether or not you "buy" it -- it's a legal requirement.

      This whole thing is just comical. Sun bought this sweetheart policy, various crews of open-source fanboys cheerlead for it, but heaven forbid anyone should have thought of this issue beforehand or lifted a finger to address it since. (Sneering at Groklaw idiots aside, I'm genuinely surprised that no one has solved this problem yet. Even if you don't buy into the wilder notions

      • The solution is the plug-in for MS Office that Mass. is currently testing. Assuming it works well, then the people who need the accessibility (and whatever else) in MS Office keep MS Office and get the plug-in, and everyone else gets OOo (or KOffice, Abi, whatever). If it doesn't work, there's about 5 other groups working on different ways of getting ODF in Office, so one of them will get it right soon and then Mass can move to ODF.

        This isn't a problem. This is FUD spread by Microsoft.
        • by Otter ( 3800 )
          If it doesn't work, there's about 5 other groups working on different ways of getting ODF in Office, so one of them will get it right soon and then Mass can move to ODF.

          Somebody else made the excellent analogy to a wheelchair ramp. You can't put up a government building and say "Five groups are working on a wheelchair ramp and one of them will get it right soon."

          Anyway, that still begs the question of why this wasn't hammered out a year ago. We're talking about Sun, not a project by a couple of teenagers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jackbird ( 721605 )
            I guess it's because the whole point of ODF is application-neutral data interchange. "Accessibility" is sort of meaningless in that context.

            To refine your analogy, it's like bringing up the wheelchair access requirement as an obstacle to zoning the land on which the government building is to sit.

          • Somebody else made the excellent analogy to a wheelchair ramp. You can't put up a government building and say "Five groups are working on a wheelchair ramp and one of them will get it right soon."

            Did you notice the part where I said "and then Mass can move to ODF"? I wasn't suggesting that Mass moves, and then hope the plugins come later. I was saying that once Mass finds an acceptable, then they'll move. If you want to go with a wheelchair ramp analogy, it's like Mass wants to build a new building, bu

          • Ramps aren't the only option though. There are stair climbing lifts, wheelchair lifts, elevators etc. Ramps aren't the only option and for certain buildings they are by far the worst option (short of doing nothing).

            It would be a grevious mistake to allow yourself to be tied into one option that forces all sorts of changes down the road because it was the most feasible option in the short term. The plugin will give ODF and all the rival office suites a fair crack at beating the M$ market dominance. But eve

          • by gral ( 697468 )
            Why should Sun have to foot the bill for everything? They made a great XML based document format that is now a Standard that EVERYONE can write to, and not have any issues with patents etc.

            There apparently is a market for having accesibility tools for ODF. Accessibility tools don't HAVE to be free, there can be a cost associated with them due to the special nature of the software.

            Of course, one of the BEST things that could be done is a "well defined problem". Listing what needs to happen for people of v
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        BTW, your faux-British persona would benefit from spelling "bollocks" correctly...

        Is it really worth trolling over spelling errors? I'm sure there are as many Brits who can't spell correctly as there are Americans and other English-speaking dialects.

      • It doesn't matter whether or not you "buy" it -- it's a legal requirement.

        This whole thing is just comical. Sun bought this sweetheart policy, various crews of open-source fanboys cheerlead for it, but heaven forbid anyone should have thought of this issue beforehand or lifted a finger to address it since.

        First and foremost, I should note that I generally support this requirement. That it is law and needs to be followed is both a reality and a generally Good Thing.

        Having said that...

        I've worked closely w

  • I think the Operating System should take care of representing the data whether it be reading a text field or error messages out loud or being able to have an overlay with bigger text. In Mac OS X you can take any text out of any application and let it be read.
  • XGL (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Korin43 ( 881732 )
    Make a bigger switch and go all the way to Linux. XGL has a zoom-in function built in, so you don't need it in the program.
  • So it seems that Microsoft's strategy of announcing new features as soon as a competitor comes along in order to encourage people to wait rather than buying a compatitor has changed with the times. Now they will just do a half-assed implimentation that relies on the community to maintain it in order to placate government rules and maintain market share rather than let a competitor in the door.
  • wtf would you need a "screen magnifier" for a word processor anyway? For a browser you can change the text size, and for any word processor there's ZOOM menu option which you can set to 200% or 300%. What am I missing here?

    As for screen readers (Text-to-Speech), that should be part of the operating system. Though I imagine it would be far easier for a blind person to be using a simple text editor. I don't imagine they'd be using the formatting options all that much.
    • wtf would you need a "screen magnifier" for a word processor anyway? For a browser you can change the text size, and for any word processor there's ZOOM menu option which you can set to 200% or 300%. What am I missing here?
      Your method doesn't increase the size of the menu options or buttons, only the typed text on the screen. That is what you are missing.

      I don't imagine they'd be using the formatting options all that much.
      Just because a blind person is creating the document, doesn't mean that only b
      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        Your method doesn't increase the size of the menu options or buttons

        That is, or should be, a function of the OS.


        • Your method doesn't increase the size of the menu options or buttons


          That is, or should be, a function of the OS.
          .. and is certainly already available in any OS supported by OpenOffice.
          I really don't see how this is a problem.
      • Just because a blind person is creating the document, doesn't mean that only blind people will be using the document.

        All the more reason for the text of the document to be accessible in a format easily editable in a simple text editor, or some other application that is not the original word processor. For example, an XML format in which text can easily be edited without losing formatting and structure.

        Documents saved in some kind of XML format should be quite easy to load into a specialized application for

  • Magnifier. Comes in accessability group. The only realy hurdle is text to speach. JAWS is the most prevalent program, and it only works with MS software. I guess we just have to petition the manufacturer of JAWS for a plugin. They should be able to do it best and quickest (just like MS did with the plugin
  • Since I saw the same question posted in amny places let me go ahead and explain it once in one place. FYI I have been teaching the blind and people with multiple disabilities how to use computers for competitive employment for nearly 10 years.

    There is no operating system that actually has speech and large print capabilities built into the core. Accessibility has always been a "bolt on" solution. In many cases, large print software and screen reading software has altered and even mangled video drivers in order to try to figure out what was being put on the screen to work with it. However, in the last few years there has been a move to incorporate the ability for third party software such as screen readers and large print software to be able to access the data in otehr apps more easily so that the text can be read by the screen readers. Unfortunately, it is still possible (and common) to run into applications that use odd ways of writing to the video cards that the large print software is unable to intercept. Therefore you will get issues such as in Microsoft Word where if you insert Word Art it is invisible when you are using large print software but visible when you disable the software.

    And of course, we all hate Microsoft for being a monopoly so the adaptive technology industry is rather happy (I'm sure) that MS doesn't incorporate a useful large print and screen reader software built into the OS. Now, there is large print and speech applications built into Windows. However, they are no better than many two-bit freeware packages and are not practical for long term use if you're going to be as efficient as a sighted person at work.

    Mac OS has large print and speech applications as well. However, the large print software doesn't track the typing cursor. They have had this flaw for years and seem too lazy to fix it. This makes the software nearly useless for word processing. Their screen reader leaves plenty of room for improvement as well. Unfortunately, since the move to Mac OS X there are no longer 3rd party vendors for large print and speech for the Mac (there used to be).

    Hopefully that clears a few things up. Now, as for Open Office, I have been using it for a low vision user who need minimal magnification with large print software and it seems to be OK although there are some odd random artifacts that clear up. Not a great solution but it will do for that particular situation. However, screen readers and Open Office are still not where they need to be. In OO.o's dfense, they are aware of this and, I believe, working on it. Here's hoping we'll see some movement soon.

    Michael Wigle
    Computer Access Specialist
    Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
    • There is no operating system that actually has speech and large print capabilities built into the core. Accessibility has always been a "bolt on" solution. In many cases, large print software and screen reading software has altered and even mangled video drivers in order to try to figure out what was being put on the screen to work with it. However, in the last few years there has been a move to incorporate the ability for third party software such as screen readers and large print software to be able to a

    • There is no operating system that actually has speech and large print capabilities built into the core.

      Actually, OS/2 did have them (or as close to 'built into the core' as you can get in a modern OS - it was on the install media for people who could be bothered to check the box to install it). Unfortunately it didn't happen until some of the very last releases, by which time nobody was using OS/2 any more (we're talking about merlin and aurora here, and you can't even get aurora unless you know exactly whe

  • Microsoft Word's XML schema is very straight forward so to save users a lot of grief, why not just use that format? Non-Microsoft office software should not have any problem reading and writing it. You might want to change the namespace for trademark purity and if you have some obscure embedded OLE control, it will of course be ignored (but not stripped). Has this solution been proposed?
    • by yuna49 ( 905461 )
      It has patent restrictions.
    • by jZnat ( 793348 ) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:02PM (#15949936) Homepage Journal
      ODF is an ISO standard and unencumbered by patents. OpenXML is still somewhat restricted in its licensing, and it is encumbered by Microsoft patents. The only guarantee that the patents won't be used offensively is Microsoft's word (no pun intended).
    • by tessonec ( 620168 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:04PM (#15949956) Homepage
      Many reasons come into mind
      • Much of the information is stored in binary and enclosed in xml tags. This information is not straightforward to be written
      • Why use a non-standard format when there is already a ISO-standarized one
      • There are already many applications already preparated for reading/writing ODF documents that are already working on a multi-platform basis. Whilst there is only one version of a program (produced by a single company for only two plataforms). Many users did not upgrade yet (and they SHOULD PAY FOR THIS). So that should be a load of money (for MS) which makes no-sense
      • the Massachussets goverment should also pay a lot of licences for that software.
      So, please give us a single reason for doing such a silly thing
      • by KidSock ( 150684 )
        Much of the information is stored in binary and enclosed in xml tags. This information is not straightforward to be written

        This is totally false. There are no mystery blobs. Images, EPS, tables, footnotes, scripts, everything that can be expored reasonably is represented as one would expect. Try exporting a complex document from MS Word to XML format first before posting false statements and misleading people.

        Why use a non-standard format when there is already a ISO-standarized one

        First, what good is an ISO
  • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @12:50PM (#15949838) Homepage Journal
    This suggests a lot of differences from the original plan.

    The original deadline was ODF at the start of 2007. The general plan was to get a suitable plugin for existing MS Office deployments to keep using the same MS licenses, but save all documents as ODF. This plugin would also be available to recipients of the documents, so that they could read documents in the new format. The original plan did not include using a different office suite, open-source or otherwise, as part of this directive (although the directive would obviously facilitate later transitions).

    It looks to me like MA has outwitted MS here; MS's FUD about this directive has convinced everybody that MA is ditching MS Office, to the point where MA can make a concession where they switch to OpenOffice later than the deadline, when their original position was not to switch at all.

    Now, it's possible that the new CIO is unaware that the old CIO had made the current plan originally, and actually thinks that he was supposed to get new software in place, and thinks he's missing that milestone. But, most likely, he's just making it sound that way so the disablity groups can feel victorious, when their concerns were already handled in the general goal of continuing to use existing working software deployments.
  • Ah well, my karma is currently excellent.

    MS Office, the choice for handicapped people everywhere!

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. -- Winston Churchill

Working...