– Mark E. Smith

Fox News (yes) covers Massachusetts’ decision to adopt open document formats in its government:

The policy also fails to consider accessibility by citizens and state employees with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies. Several such technologies, including screen readers and speech recognition, are not readily supported by applications that use OpenDocument formats. In commentary submitted to the Massachusetts Information Technology Division, the Bay State Council of the Blind and individuals with vision impairments strongly opposed the proposed policy.

State employee Sharon Strzalkowski wrote, “We have worked long and hard to get the computer access we now enjoy, and it would cause much harm to go to this new and inaccessible system.”

(Did “state employee Sharon Strzalkowski” write that on government time using government equipment?)

A file format isn’t a “system” and cannot be intrinsically accessible or inaccessible. It can contain accessibility features. Your computer hardware is a system that can be inaccessible. You the blind person are under no obligation to use a Windows computer system.

If Strzalkowski is trying to say that only Microsoft could ever produce any kind of accessibility, she needs to get out more. Let me quote myself here: “The assumption seems to be that blind people only ever or only can or only must use Windows.” If you think Windows is your only option because that used to be true, well, welcome to the 21st century.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.10.13 17:11. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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