Open Source Accessibility

Supported by Raising the Floor

Supported by UNESCO

Invitation to Second Meeting

You are invited to the second Open Source Accessibility Forum to take place in Toronto in conjunction with Toronto Open Source Week and FSOSS . The dates for the Open Source Accessibility Forum will be October 28th and 29th.  Logistics for the meetings are at: and will be posted on this Wiki.

Thanks to the discussions and work done during the first forum in Vancouver, we will have 5 focused discussions (in addition to advancing discussions regarding critical gaps and shared resources). These encompass the major priorities we identified and synthesized during the Vancouver meeting.  The 5 areas are:

On this Page
1. Accessible collaboration tools
The communication systems, bug-tracking systems, planning wikis, text chats, teleconference systems, and other means whereby open source communities plan, design, develop, evaluate, refine and distribute open source systems must be accessible. This will enable participation by community members with disabilities. It will mean that the needs of people with disabilities are represented in the community and it will enable the participation of individuals knowledgeable and personally interested in accessibility requirements.  These systems must also address multiple languages.

2. End to end accessibility in one platform
No one platform has the necessary critical mass of accessible applications to enable full adoption as an accessible open source platform. This impedes institutions or jurisdictions from adopting an open source operating system. GNOME was identified as a possible candidate for this and meetings are planned to determine how this can be accomplished. How much work can be done in a cross-platform compatible way? How do we address underserved areas like cognitive accessibility? Can we incorporate personalization strategies such as AccessForAll?

3. National Public Inclusive Infrastructure
A compelling case was made that an inclusive open source infrastructure was needed. It was argued that this is just as important as other forms of infrastructure given the digital age. There was agreement that partners would launch proposals in their respective countries and that these efforts would be linked.  Gregg Vanderheiden and Raising the Floor will continue the discussions begun in our first forum. How can we leverage and share work done in our respective jurisdictions to achieve a coordinated international infrastructure?

4. Mobile Accessibility
Promoting the principle of designing accessibly from the start and recognizing the prevalence of mobile systems in lower income countries, we need to develop a strategy and plan for ensuring that there are accessible, open and affordable systems for mobile platforms.

5. Beyond the Code
Adoption of accessible open source systems cannot happen without a penumbra of supporting activities including education, user support, documentation, translation, setup and maintenance support, quality assurance and evaluation to name just a few.
These focused discussions will take place over 2 days and we hope to produce a number of proposals to take to funding bodies and partners. We will also present the outcomes at the FSOSS conference

Please share this invitation broadly with individuals and organizations that you feel could contribute to the discussion and RSVP to by September 30th so we know how many people to expect. I had hoped to have news about travel support last week but due to staffing changes at sponsoring organizations these have not yet been confirmed. Please tell me if you will need travel support. Also please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Background and Goals of Meeting

On August 11, 2009 a number of open source accessibility experts met in Vancouver to talk about how to make the most of what is being invested in accessibility in open source communities and projects. This is to address the following issues and challenges:

  • we want to make sure that open source applications, systems and assistive technologies are a viable, affordable and sustainable means for people with disabilities around the word to participate in all that information and communication technologies make possible
  • there are limited resources available to address accessibility
  • we don't want to do work redundantly
  • we want to share work wherever possible, keep each other informed about what is being done and find a way to address the less attractive but important tasks
  • we want to make sure that our approaches provide people with disabilities with relatively consistent or compatible options across domains
  • we want to leverage the unique advantages of open source development and communities to provide innovative accessibility.

Also, through a number of grants and awards, we have the opportunity to address gaps not addressed through existing or planned efforts.

A short planning meeting was held with a smaller group of people to be followed by a larger working meeting to collectively build an open source road map for the next few years. These meetings will bring together decision makers and people interested in open source accessibility across a number of domains including operating systems, desktop applications, Web applications, mobile systems, laptops, and development toolkits.

The planning meeting took place on August 11, 2009 in Vancouver and immediately preceded the OpenEd Meetings ( ). The reason for choosing this location and time was to encourage communication and coordination between the open source and open content communities.

The larger working meeting is planned for the Toronto Open Source Week on the 28th and 29th of October directly preceding the FSOSS conference and following the Ontario Linux Fest and other events taking place during Toronto Open Source Week.

During the planning meeting we hope to create a gap analysis, an overview of the state of open source accessibility initiatives and a draft roadmap. This will be used as the basis for collectively creating a roadmap with the larger group in October.


Draft Agenda

Meeting Location

The meeting will be held during Toronto Open Source Week at Seneca College, Seneca@York campus. This is located in the north end of Toronto, about 20 minutes the Toronto international airport. Location information is available here:

Stephen E. Quinlan (SEQ) building on the York University campus. The street address is 70 The Pond Road (Rm 2168), Toronto, Ontario, M3J 3M6. The main meeting room is on the second floor, #2168, it is also called the Kaleidoscope Classroom.


York ELC Hotel

Hilton Garden Inn

Marriott Residence Inn

Getting Here

Transportation from Pearson International Airport

Public transit :
From the airport you will take the Malton 58A bus south to Keele St. Ask for a transfer when entering the Malton bus. You will have to switch to the Keele 41 or 41B bus. This will take you right into the University grounds.
Cost is $2.75 correct change.

From U of T St. George Campus

GO Transit from the Airport to York University
Go bus from the airport to Bramalea Go station. Switch to York University Bus. Cost $4.45. all buses are wheelchair accessible. This service is available Monday to Friday.

Airport Taxi Limo:
The approximate cost from the airport is $45.00
Wheelchair accessible transportation is also available.


Attendance and Details


Thursday dinner will be in the Executive Learning Centre dining hall, adjacent to the SEQ building, 56 Fine Arts Rd, Schulich School of Business

Arrival 5:30pm, Dinner 6:00pm

Please contact if you like to join dinner but your name is not checked off on the attendance list


Skype name : ATRCUofT

The audio bridge will be via Skype for the main room. For those who wish to participate in the Mobile session, access is via

Wednesday local dinner suggestions

Off the top of my head: Mandarin just E of here on Finch; Thai at Hwy 7
& Jane in Interchange; several options at Weston & Hwy 7 (including
Kelsey's, Casey's, Ice Cream Patio (which despite its name is Italian –
gourmet pizza)); Swiss Chalet at Bathurst & Centre (near Promenade).

IRC Server

IRC Server Name: <irc://>
IRC Server Port: 6667

Main Channel: #OSA
Help Channel: #help
Other channels: #Inclusive-Infrastructure #One-Platform #Collaboration-Tools #Mobile

Note: if the above link does not work, or you do not have an IRC client, try the web based irc client at If you use Firefox, download the Chatzilla plugin

Vancouver 2009

Meeting Info

Draft Documents and Homework

Current Work in Open Source Accessibility (in progress)

Critical Gaps (in progress)

OSA Roadmap


For the following presentations click on the link and you will be prompted to download the file.

UNESCO presentation by Mr. Abdul Waheed Khan

Presentation by Jutta Treviranus

AEGIS by Peter Korn

Raising the Floor by Gregg Vanderheiden

OSA_Fluid by Jess Mitchell and Colin Clark

National Infrastructure by Gregg Vanderheiden

Dublin Core Presentation by Jutta Treviranus

Next Steps

UNESCO at ITU Telecom World 2009

Open Source Week, Toronto - Open Source Accessibility Forum

Japan 2010 Accessibility Symposium

W4A 2010 (with WWW Raleigh NC - April 26/27 2010 Submissions due Early Feb 2010 )