[Accessibleweb] AxsJAX - T.V. Raman and Google have been busy

Rick Ells rells at u.washington.edu
Wed Nov 14 10:47:11 PST 2007



The announcement below was just sent to the w3c-wai email list.
Anyone interested in accessible AJAX should take a look.

----------------------------------


>From raman at google.com Tue Nov 13 15:14:09 2007

Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 15:10:05 -0800
From: T.V Raman <raman at google.com>
To: wai-xtech at w3.org, w3c-wai-pf at w3.org
Subject: AxsJAX --- Distributing Accessibility At Web-Scale
Resent-Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 23:10:24 +0000
Resent-From: w3c-wai-ig at w3.org

Friends,

Some of you saw live demos at the W3C Plenary from me and Charles
of an early release of our AxsJAX framework. We just announced it
to the wider Web community --- see
http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/11/introducing-axsjax-access-enabling-ajax.html

I'm attaching a list of Frequently Asked Questions to the end of
this message. AxsJAX and its associated documentation is at
http://code.google.com/p/google-axsjax



[ Part 2: "Frequently Asked Questions" ]

AxsJAX Frequently Asked Questions

TABLE OF CONTENTS

* 1 Introduction To AxsJAX
+ 1.1 What Is AxsJAX?
+ 1.2 What New Opportunities Does AxsJAX Open Up?
+ 1.3 What Are Its Accessibility Goals?
+ 1.4 AxsJAX Uses JavaScript --- Isn't That Inaccessible?
+ 1.5 Is AxsJAX Specific To Google Applications?
+ 1.6 What Are The Long-term Goals For AxsJAX?
+ 1.7 How Is AxsJAX Pronounced?
* 2 AxsJAX Technical Overview
+ 2.1 What Prerequisites Does AxsJAX Assume?
+ 2.2 How Does AxsJAX Leverage W3C ARIA?
+ 2.3 What Google Applications Does It Presently Enhance?
+ 2.4 How Does AxsJAX Help Screen Reader Vendors?
+ 2.5 How Does AxsJAX Help The Evolution Of Access Standards?
+ 2.6 How Does AxsJAX Inject Accessibility?
+ 2.7 How Can Web Developers Experience AxsJAX Enhancements?

1 INTRODUCTION TO AXSJAX

1.1 What Is AxsJAX?

Web 2.0 applications are powered by AJAX --- Asynchronous JavaScript
And XML. AxsJAX leverages AJAX techniques to inject accessibility
support into Web 2.0 applications.

1.2 What New Opportunities Does AxsJAX Open Up?

AJAX techniques have helped Web developers create live applications
within Web browsers. The AxsJAX framework helps inject accessibility
features into these applications so that users of adaptive
technologies such as screen readers and self-voicing browsers
experience the same level of interactivity that is now taken for
granted by users of Web 2.0 applications.

1.3 What Are Its Accessibility Goals?

Our accessibility goals include but are not limited to:

* Discover and codify design patterns for access-enabling AJAX
applications.
* Serve as a test-bed for implementors of adaptive technologies in
extending their tools to handle Web 2.0 applications.
* Help discover and fill-in gaps in the various standards that deal
with the accessibility of AJAX applications.

1.4 AxsJAX Uses JavaScript --- Isn't That Inaccessible?

Web applications that use JavaScript have traditionally proven an
access barrier to screen reader users for the following reasons:

* Adaptive technologies cannot always interpret the meaning of
actions invoked via JavaScript.
* Asynchronous page updates leave screen readers at a loss as to
what to speak.
A set of W3C specifications collectively refered to as W3C ARIA is
addressing these issues. Though AJAX applications will continue to
remain unusable from legacy browsers like lynx, there is no reason
why they should remain forever inaccessible to users of adaptive
technologies.

Finally, JavaScript in the browser is a powerful mechanism that has
enabled us to turn the Web from a world of static documents to a
platform for deploying dynamic end-user applications. The primary
goal of the AxsJAX framework is to leverage these same advantages
presented by JavaScript in the browser to create flexible, powerful
accessibility solutions.

1.5 Is AxsJAX Specific To Google Applications?

We are open-sourcing the AxsJAX framework early in its development to
foster a healthy community around the concept of access-enabling Web
applications by injecting accessibility enhancements via JavaScript.

AxsJAX initially targets Google applications. As we discover design
patterns that work, we are refactoring these into common modules that
foster code reuse. Notice that these common modules are not Google
specific, and can be leveraged to inject accessibility enhancements
to any application deployed on the Web.

1.6 What Are The Long-term Goals For AxsJAX?

The long-term goals of AxsJAX will be largely end-user driven. This
initial release hints at the type of end-user benefits that can be
enabled via such a framework. Our goal is to create a healthy
community built on an open framework for enhancing the accessibility
of Web 2.0 applications.

1.7 How Is AxsJAX Pronounced?

AxsJAX is pronounced Access Jax to rhyme with AJAX.

2 AXSJAX TECHNICAL OVERVIEW

2.1 What Prerequisites Does AxsJAX Assume?

AxsJAX injects accessibility enhancements as defined by W3C ARIA. The
prerequisites for experiencing its benefits include:

1. A modern Web browser like Firefox 2.0 or later that supports W3C
ARIA.
2. Adaptive technologies that respond correctly to the accessibility
enhancements introduced by W3C ARIA.
3. In particular, many of the enhancements injected by AxsJAX depend
on support for live regions a feature that enables adaptive
technologies like screen readers and self-voicing browsers deal
correctly with asynchronous updates to portions of a Web page.

2.2 How Does AxsJAX Leverage W3C ARIA?

W3C ARIA is a collection of specifications that is presently under
development at the W3C. Early support for W3C ARIA is available in
Firefox 2.0, and its features are beginning to be leveraged by newer
versions of screen readers.

W3C ARIA works by enhancing the DOM with accessibility specific
properties. The AxsJAX framework enables the injection of such DOM
properties into existing Web applications via JavaScript. It provides
a light-weight yet flexibile mechanism for experimenting with various
design patterns for enhancing the accessibility of AJAX applications.

2.3 What Google Applications Does It Presently Enhance?

* Google Reader
* Google Search

2.4 How Does AxsJAX Help Screen Reader Vendors?

The set of specifications collectively known as W3C ARIA is still
under active development. Applications that have been enhanced via
AxsJAX provide real-life examples for testing ARIA support within new
versions of screen readers. Thus, whereas individual test-suites help
screen reader developers test support for a given feature, AxsJAX
enabled applications provide live examples for carrying out
end-to-end testing.

2.5 How Does AxsJAX Help The Evolution Of Access Standards?

W3C ARIA is still under active development. By access-enabling
complete applications, AxsJAX helps in the development of the W3C
ARIA specifications by discovering what works and by identifying gaps
that need to be filled.

2.6 How Does AxsJAX Inject Accessibility?

The AxsJAX framework can inject accessibility enhancements into
existing Web 2.0 applications using any of several standard Web
techniques:

* As bookmarklets --- small snippets of JavaScript that are used to
create smart bookmarks.
* Using GreaseMonkey --- a powerful browser extension that allows
end-users to customize the look and feel of Web sites via custom
scripts.
In particular, the accessibility enhancements provided by AxsJAX are
not tied to any single injection technique, and we are looking to the
Open Source community to come up with additional innovative means for
performing such enhancements.

2.7 How Can Web Developers Experience AxsJAX Enhancements?

The open source Fire Vox extension to Firefox provides an ideal tool
for Web developers who may not necessarily have commercial screen
readers available for testing. Fire Vox is a cross-platform
self-voicing extension to Firefox that includes early support for
most of the leading edge features of W3C ARIA.

Author: T.V. Raman, Charles L. Chen <raman at google.com,
clchen at google.com>

Date: 2007/10/30 14:35:13


--Charles and Raman (The Google Access Jacks)


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