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Sun, Consortium to Drive Tech Accessibility Project

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Sun Microsystems is working with the European Commission-funded open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards (AEGIS) Project to improve disabled users' access to mobile devices, computers, and rich Internet applications. AEGIS involves about 20 companies from Europe and Canada, as well as the Adaptive Technology Resource Center at the University of Toronto, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the University of Cambridge, the European Platform for Rehabilitation, and the Vodafone Spain Foundation.

For desktop computers, AEGIS will focus on an open source framework for future magnification-based assistive technologies, says Sun's Peter Korn. "Fundamentally, we are looking to take advantage of advances in video hardware. What a cheap video card can do these days is really impressive," Korn says. Technologies that magnify parts of a screen are already available but they need to be more powerful and flexible, he says. There also is a significant amount of work needed to improve mobile devices and applications. "What assistive technologies exist for mobile are bolt-on, reverse-engineered, and ultimately unsatisfying solutions with limited ability to work with downloaded/third-party applications — the very place where mobile device capabilities are most rapidly expanding," Korn says. He says AEGIS is focusing on open source technologies to keep costs down and make it more affordable to develop accessible products.

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