Some of you may recall that about a year ago the Mozilla Foundation provided a grant to NV Access, an Australia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to developing NVDA, an open source screen reader designed for blind users of Windows applications like Firefox. This grant went to support NV Access hiring a developer (James Teh) to work full-time on NVDA. (The Mozilla Foundation had previously provided a smaller grant as well.)

I’m happy to pass on the news that NV Access has now received financial support from Microsoft sufficient to allow Mick Curran (the original developer of NVDA) to also work full-time on NVDA. From my point of view this is a significant development for both NV Access itself, which has taken another step towards sustaining itself and the NVDA project for the long term, and for blind users of Windows.

Users of both OS X and Linux-based systems have available very capable screen readers as part of the base operating system, VoiceOver and Orca respectively. With NVDA Windows users also have a no-cost alternative to expensive proprietary screen readers (albeit one not bundled into the OS itself). This supports the general goal of providing a base level of no-cost high-quality assistive technology in all PCs and PC-like devices. (Accessibility for mobile phones and other mobile devices is another story, and one for another day.)

This grant also highlights an important aspect of the Mozilla Foundation’s grant program: I think we are best seen as providing the equivalent of “seed funding” for worthy organizations and individuals. For example, a number of the people we’ve funded for (relatively small) accessibility and other grants have gone on to full-time employment in their respective fields. In this case Microsoft’s funding of NVDA can be seen as a validation of our original “investment” in NV Access and the NVDA project. I hope to see other Mozilla-funded organizations graduate to the next level as well. (In this respect, see Gen Kanai’s post highlighting some favorable publicity for Project:Possibility and its founder Chris Leung.)

Steve Lee - 2008-12-19 12:35

> This grant also highlights an important aspect of the Mozilla Foundation’s grant program: I think we are best seen as providing the equivalent of “seed funding” Frank, I agree that this has been such an important aspect of the grant programme and a realisation of the Mozilla Manifesto. More I think your funding has been critical in raising awareness and growing the ecosystem in other less tangible ways, not least due to the community around MoCo accessibility. Personally I am grateful as the seed funding you provided enabled me to give up my day job and concentrate on Open Accessibility. As a freelancer I have been involved in many projects and activities that I would not otherwise have been able to (like Maavis, straight-street, Dkey, Project:Possibility and even oatsoft.). While Jambu may not yet be as polished as we would like, the ideas, lessons, and contacts made have enabled me to contribute to the wider community in many ways. I hope to figure out how best to include Jambu in this wider picture. So a big “thank you” from someone else who has been able to contribute as a result of your grants. Next looks like being an exciting one for Open Accessibility, in no small part due to ground preparation work you have done. A merry Christmas to you and all at MoFo and MoCo.