Sun Microsystems leads international consortium and wins grant for research and development project on technology accessibility

Santa Clara 18 December 2008Sun Microsystems Inc. is steering global efforts in solving accessibility challenges for all devices from cell phones to desktops and web applications by leading a consortium of over 20 other companies and organisations. The consortium will help define new approaches and solutions for building accessibility support into future information and communication technologies. Funded by a grant awarded by the European Commission, the AEGIS project is based on the Sun-led proposal and technical architecture. A key component of the AEGIS project is that it will leverage open source technologies wherever possible.


The AEGIS acronym stands for "open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards". Participants in the AEGIS Project include: Centre for Research & Technology Hellas - project co-ordinator, the ACE Centre Advisory Trust, Adaptive Technology Resource Centre of the University of Toronto, AOL, Blue Point IT Solutions S.R.L., Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the University of Cambridge, Conncept Swiss, Czech Technical University in Prague, European Platform for Rehabilitation, Femtio Procent Data AB, Vodafone Spain Foundation, Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, ONCE Foundation, P50, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Research In Motion Limited (RIM), Royal National Institute of Blind People, SingularLogic S.A., Sahlgrenska University Hospital - DART and Sun Microsystems. Advising the AEGIS project is a distinguished scientific advisory board comprised of worldwide experts in the field of accessibility.

"Every second of every day that passes, the number of new mobile devices and web sites grows at an astounding rate - with much of that growth bringing accessibility problems for people with disabilities. By building support for accessibility into the next generation of rich internet application frameworks and mobile devices, we can help ensure that people with disabilities can participate in the digital age. Sun is pleased to be leading the AEGIS project and bringing our expertise in open source and accessibility technology to this important initiative", stated Jeet Kaul, senior vice president of the Client Software Group at Sun.

"The accessibility challenges of the new generations of desktop, web, and mobile technologies require new approaches - ones in which accessibility is designed in from the start, rather than bolted on as an afterthought", stated Dr. Evangelos Bekiaris, AEGIS project co-ordinator and Research Director at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas. "The AEGIS project, with its holistic approach starting with developer tools on through to the platforms the accessible applications run on - and with the end-user validation provided by the disability organisation members of the AEGIS consortium - is the most promising and thorough approach to accessibility we have seen in decades."

"E-inclusion in the Information Society is of paramount importance", stated Richard Orme, Head of Accessibility, RNIB. "It is imperative that we close the digital divide in this ever evolving world. RNIB is committed to participating in projects that will bring about positive change in the lives of blind and partially sighted people. We're excited to be part of the AEGIS project, working with developers, companies and organisations to bring about wholesale improvements in accessibility to ICT solutions. RNIB fully supports the endeavour of improving accessibility from the ground up, building accessibly features into developer tools and ratifying the outcomes through end user testing."

"AOL is excited to participate in such a dynamic consortium by contributing solutions that advance accessibility of rich Internet applications", stated Tom Wlodkowski, Director of Accessibility at AOL. "As a pioneer in the web accessibility space, AOL has recently deployed a keyboard-friendly web mail application that aligns functionality with widely used software e-mail clients. We're pleased that Sun recognized our commitment to the disability audience as they assembled this innovative project."

The AEGIS project will involve research and prototypes that address a broad range of disabilities including: vision impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, and a range of cognitive/developmental disabilities. The participants plan to address accessibility challenges across three key areas: open source desktop computing, Rich Internet Applications (RIA) and mobile devices; with a multitude of research and development goals within each of these areas. In addressing these challenges, the AEGIS project will leverage the pervasiveness of Java technology across desktops, the web, and mobile devices. Java is one of the world's most popular software platforms and is present on more than 800 million desktop computers and over 2,2 billion mobile phones worldwide.

More information is available at the AEGIS project website.

Source: Sun Microsystems

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