New Mozilla accessibility projects

In the few remaining minutes before Firefox 3.5 storms its way around the world, I wanted to highlight two Firefox-related accessibility projects that are just getting under way, courtesy of special funding from the Mozilla Corporation. Both projects address key goals in the proposed Mozilla accessibility strategy.

The first is a project by the Paciello Group to continue work they’ve previously been doing under Mozilla Foundation funding to make the Firebug developer tool more accessible, with a particular focus on the Firebug releases intended for use with Firefox 3.5. This work is complementary with related Firebug work by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (funded by the Mozilla Foundation), with the overall goal being to integrate accessibility for web applications into the standard tools used by web developers (i.e., Firebug), as opposed to having accessibility testing confined to special accessibility-focused tools used by only a small subset of developers.

The second is a project by Silvia Pfeiffer to continue her previous Foundation-funded work on accessibility of open video formats. Silvia previously produced a report on video accessibility issues with Ogg and related formats; the present project helps move Mozilla into the implementation phase, with Silvia working with Chris Double and other Mozilla developers working with Firefox <video> support.

As noted in the accessibility strategy, this supports our higher-level goal of providing accessible innovation by helping to make a major Firefox 3.5 innovation accessible. This of course also depends on having easy-to-use applications (preferably open source) to add captions, etc., as well as communities of people willing to do captioning. Since captioning techniques can also be used for producing subtitles in other languages, this in turns ties into the social translation movement and the efforts to produce open translation tools that Axel Hecht recently blogged about. As David Bolter recently tweeted, convergence… the time is right for crowdsourcing closed captioning… openly… who’s game? we need online tooling, outside box thinking Let the thinking (and doing!) begin…

We’ll have more news to report on the Mozilla accessibility front in future. In the meantime thanks to the Mozilla Corporation for supporting these projects.