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Announcing the Early Access release of Java Accessibility from Sun

From: Peter Korn <Peter.Korn@Sun.COM>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 21:47:45 -0700
Message-ID: <33D6DE6E.9C6F50BA@sun.com>
To: JA-PR@basso.Eng.Sun.COM
The Sun Accessibility team would like to:

  o  announce the public availability of the Java Accessibility package
     from Sun Microsystems

  o  announce the creation of <java-access@javasoft.com>, an open e-mail
     list for the discussion all things relating to Java Accessibility

  o  forward to you a copy of Sun's press release announcing
     Java Accessibility

Detailed information about Sun's Accessibility effort can be found on our
Web page at <http://www.sun.com/tech/access>.  This page also includes
links to the Java Accessibility Package Early Access release, as well as
links to the Java Foundation Classes pages.

The Java Accessibility Package:

Java Accessibility, a new core set of functionality that will ship with the
next release of the Java Development Kit (JDK), provides accessibility
information about Java applications and applets built with the JDK.  This
new functionality consists of the Java Accessibility API, a standard,
supported mechanism for interacting with and for getting information from
the Java user interface. Since Java Accessibility will be a core part of
the JDK, it will eventually be part of every Java platform that supports
the next release of the JDK.

The Early Access release of the Java Accessibility package consists of the
Java Accessibility API, which is a set of utility classes which provide
methods to query Java applets and applications built with AWT and/or the new

Java Foundation Class libraries; documentation on these utility classes and
the Java Accessibility API; and a draft of a tutorial describing how to
write Assistive Technology for Java.  Instructions on how to download the
Early Access release of the Java Accessibility package are included at the
end of this message.

Java, as it is deployed and running today, presents a number of significant
access barriers.  However, the combination of Java's object-oriented
design, which bundles together every piece of data in the Java environment,
Java code to manipulate that data, and the opportunity to include
Accessibility features virtually from the beginning, present tremendous
opportunities to  make Java a far more accessible environment than any
other mainstream computing  system to date.  The Sun Accessibility team
is committed to making Java  accessible, and this Early Access release of
Sun's Java Accessibility package  is our first publicly released package
in our fulfillment of that commitment.

In this Early Access release, the Java Accessibility package is a
separately downloadable package from Sun.  The Java Accessibility API
will be fully supported by the release version of the Java Foundation Class
libraries, a rich set of Java user-interface components for building
everything from simple Java applets to complex Office suites and
enterprise-wide applications.  This Early Access release of Java
Accessibility supports the Early Access release of the Java Foundation
Classes, also available for public download.

In addition to fully supporting Java Accessibility, the Java Foundation
Classes are built using a "Pluggable Look & Feel architecture" which
separates the user interface from the state or model underlying it, and
also directly supports changing a program's look and feel.  While this
architecture makes it possible for someone who prefers a Macintosh-style
look and feel to continue to use it on any Java system (whether that system
is running Windows, Solaris, OS/2, or any other environment), it also means
that a user can choose a non-visual user-interface, such as an audio or
Braille interface, which puts these non-visual interfaces on equal footing
with the mainstream visual ones for the first time, and provides direct
access to applications instead of access through an accessibility aid.

We actively welcome your comments on this Early Access release of Java
Accessibility - please tell us what you think of it, whether or not it
meets your needs, and how we can make it better.  Send your comments to
the Sun Accessibility team at <access@sun.com>, or share your comments with
others interested in Java Accessibility by joining the Java Accessibility
mailing list, <java-access@javasoft.com>.

The Java Accessibility discussion list <java-access@javasoft.com>:

The Java Accessibility discussion list is a place for discussing issues,
problems, and solutions relating to accessibility in Java.  All topics that
involve both Java and accessibility are welcome on this list.  General
comments on the Java Accessibility package that you want to share with
others are encouraged, though please be sure to send bug reports or other
messages that are specifically directed to Sun to <access@sun.com>.

<java-access@javasoft.com> is a standard LISTSERV-based mailing list.  To
subscribe to the Java Accessibility discussion list, send an e-mail message
to <listserv@javasoft.com>, and place the text "subscribe java-access" into
the  body of the message.  You will automatically be subscribed to the
discussion list.  To unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to
<listserv@javasoft.com> and  place the text "signoff java-access" into the
body of the message.

The Java Accessibility API Press Release:

                                        Sun Microsystems, Inc.
                                        Andrew Shikiar  (408) 343-1813

                                        Pam Sufi  (415) 287-4026


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

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - July 23, 1997 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. today
announced the preview specification for its Java(TM) 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 APIs 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 http://java.sun.com/products/jfc/.

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

"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 (JDK(TM)), due later this year.  More information on the Java
Accessibility API can be found on the Java Foundation Classes Web page
at http://java.sun.com/products/jfc.  Further details can be found at
Sun's Accessibility site: http://www.sun.com/tech/access.

Java Internet Business Expo
 Java(SM) Internet Business Expo(SM) 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 http://www.javaexpo.sbforums.com or
 call 888-528-2397

About Sun
Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision, "The Network
Is The Computer(TM)" 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. Wit more than $8 billion in annual revenues, Sun
can be found in more than 150 countries and on the Worldwide Web at

                                # # #

Sun, the Sun logo, Sun Microsystems, JavaSoft, Java, JDK, Java Internet
Business Expo and The Network is the Computer are trademarks or
registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems Inc., in the United States
and other countries.

     Quote Addendum
     July 23, 1997

     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

     Contact:   Brian Charlson
     American Council for the Blind
     Email:  charlsonb@delphi.com

     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)
                Email:  janina@afb.org

     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
        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.
     Email:  brady2@apple.com

     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
                Email:  deane@blazie.com

        "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.
                Email: radlin1@us.ibm.com

     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.
                Email: andreac@netscape.com

     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
                Email:  jutta.treviranus@utoronto.ca

    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
                Email:  po@trace.wisc.edu

Downloading the Java Accessibility Package:

To download the Early Access release of Java Accessibility, you must first
register and log into the Java Developer Connection (which is free).   From
there, you can directly download Early Access releases of a number of
Java-related packages, including Java Accessibility (called "JFC
Accessibility" on the Java Developer Connection web site).

  1. Go to the Java Developer Connection web site at
     <http://www.javasoft.com/jdc>, and click on the "Register" link.
  2. Fill out the registration form, including your choice of username and
     password, and click  the "Submit" button.
  3. Fill out the brief questionnaire on yourself and your organization,
     and click "Submit" again.
  4. You will return to the initial Java Developer Connection page.
     Now enter the user name and password you chose in step 2 into the two
     text fields labeled by "ID:" and "Password:" respectively, and click
  5. Follow the link titled "JFC Early Access", which brings you to the
     download page.  From this page you can download an Early Access
     release of the Java Foundation Classes, the Java Foundation Classes
     HTML documentation, and the Java Accessibility package, titled
     "JFC Accessibility."  Select the format you prefer
     (ZIP for windows, GZIP TAR for Unix, or COMPRESS TAR for Unix), and
     click "Download Accessibility".

Both JFC and Java Accessibility require JDK 1.1.2 or later.  You can
download the latest version of the JDK for Solaris, Windows 95, or Windows
NT from the JDK web page at <http://www.javasoft.com/products/jdk/1.1>.

Please notify us (at <access@sun.com>) of any problems you have navigating
the JDC pages or setting up your environment. We will respond directly or
forward your comments to the appropriate webmaster.

Notes on this announcement:

If you received this announcement and are not interested in receiving
future announcements relating to Java Accessibility, please drop us a
note at <access@sun.com> and we will remove your address from future
announcements.  If you received this announcement via one or more of the
disability-related  mailing lists and would like to receive future
announcements, please drop us a note at <access@sun.com>, or join the
<java-access@javasoft.com> discussion list. Future announcements will go
only to those on our list of  people interested in Java Accessibility,
and to the <java-access@javasoft.com> discussion list.

On behalf of the Sun Accessibility team,

Peter Korn,
Assistive Technology Architect,
Sun Microsystems
Received on Thursday, 24 July 1997 00:49:27 UTC

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