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Re: Screen reader support for browsers

From: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 09:29:18 -0700
Message-ID: <022701c1e7bf$5ebbcba0$2502a8c0@vaio>
To: "john_slatin" <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
> Jim, I wasn't suggesting that there was anything nefarious going on when I
> talked about Microsoft's market share, and I don't have any beefs with IE;
> it's become a very good browser.  And if I were an AT developer I might
> make the same decisions, on both technical and economic grounds.  But
> and Netscape are also Windows applications...

Unfortunately, at least in the case of Netscape, it's not particularly
viable to attach a screen reader to it.

The reason it's easier to wrap an AT around IE is that IE is exposed as an
ActiveX control, and that control's programming interface is fully
documented. This was done by Microsoft to ensure that it would be embedded
in applications that needed web browsing capabilities, and I'm pretty sure
there are no licensing fees required. All of the IE-based ATs that I'm aware
of are just different wrappers around the core rendering code of IE.

This is also the only reason that AOL, which owns its own browser code in
Netscape, uses IE as its internal browser: Netscape 4 and previous versions
were unable to be embedded. To that end, Mozilla/Netscape 6 has adopted a
similar mechanism, and separated out the rendering code (called Gecko) so it
can be reused. The design is more flexible in that source code is available
(and it's relatively unencumbered, as it can be licensed under 3 different
public licenses, including LGPL), and can be modified to suit a hosting
application such as an AT. This may be of great benefit in the near future,
as 1.0 is to be released in the next week or two, and is rumored to be
replacing IE in AOL 8.0, so market share may be less relevant.

The Mozilla project is working to add accessibility features[1], and their
1.0 version, from which the next version of Netscape 6 will be cut, already
has (in the Windows version) MSAA, DOM, and keyboard hooks. Mozilla.org has
a document that has info on Gecko specific to Windows accessibility
vendors[2] which has lots of information.

I don't know anything about the design of Opera, though.

[1] http://www.mozilla.org/projects/ui/accessibility/
[2] http://www.mozilla.org/projects/ui/accessibility/vendors-win.html
Received on Friday, 19 April 2002 12:29:28 UTC

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