The following information comes from the May 1 edition of
WinNews, a newsletter from Microsoft. I thought recipients of
the NFB-RD list might find this interesting. It does constitute
a significant step toward our ability to access next generation
Windows platforms but not the version of Windows 95 that is due
to come out this summer.
3. Microsoft Licenses OSM Technology From Henter-Joyce
April 24, 1995
Makes Windows Easier to Use for Computer Users With
Furthers Microsoft=92s Commitment to Make Windows the Most
Accessible Operating System
REDMOND, Wash., April 24, 1995, Microsoft Corp.
today announced it is licensing core Off-Screen Model
(OSM) technology from Henter-Joyce of St. Petersburg,
Fla., developers of JAWS* (Job Access With Speech) for
the Microsoft(R) Windows(R) operating system, a
screen-access program that makes Windows accessible to
people who are blind or visually impaired. Microsoft will
use the OSM as the basis of an open component architecture
to provide individuals with disabilities access to the
information displayed on Windows-based computer screens.
Microsoft plans to provide this technology to developers
working on technologies that make computers more
accessible to users with disabilities (such as
blind-access, screen-magnification and voice-input
technologies) to help reduce time to market and increase
robustness of such key products while requiring fewer
"Microsoft=92s efforts to provide an Off-Screen
Model further demonstrates our commitment to make Windows
and Windows-based applications easier to use for everyone,
including individuals with disabilities," said Brad
Silverberg, senior vice president of the personal systems
division at Microsoft. "Our licensing agreement with
Henter-Joyce is a key step in that process. Microsoft
plans to work with accessibility vendors to build a
common, shared interface around the OSM code we are
licensing, helping to ensure compatibility with other
accessibility technologies. We are very excited about
the potential it will bring to the Windows environment."
"This is one of the most important events in the
history of computing for blind individuals," said Ted Henter,
president of Henter-Joyce and a blind user of computers for
15 years. "Microsoft leads the world in computer software,
and now its view of the world includes blind people. Steps
like this ultimately will result in making computing access
better for all people."
Off-Screen Model is the term for a database of a
computer screen=92s contents, including text, graphics,
controls and other elements. This technology primarily
has been used for blind-access products, which allow users
to browse the contents of their computer screen using
synthesized speech or a Braille display. Some capabilities
of OSM also are useful for speech-recognition utilities that
need to determine what commands are appropriate at a given
time and screen-magnification utilities that must track a
user=92s focus as he or she works.
Microsoft will incorporate Henter-Joyce=92s OSM
technology into its own open architecture to help make
Windows accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Numerous features specifically designed to make computers
easier to use for people with disabilities are being
incorporated into the Windows(R) 95 operating system,
with additional enhancements planned for the future.
The company plans to release the first set of
accessibility enhancements as soon as possible after
Windows 95 ships to help independent software vendors
(ISVs) port their existing products to the Windows 95 and
Windows NT operating systems. This will be followed by
adapting and distributing the OSM technology for
Windows 95 and further integrating the technology into
future versions of Windows and Windows NT. Future plans
also include incorporating the accessibility technology
into OLE, allowing mainstream applications to communicate
and cooperate with accessibility aids.
Benefits of OSM Technology for Windows
The open component architecture Microsoft is
building with the Henter-Joyce OSM technology ultimately
will make accessibility products more readily available
to individuals with disabilities, since time-to-market
demands will be decreased for ISVs. The technology will
reduce engineering time and costs, allowing ISVs to
reduce time to market with new products and for new
releases of the Windows operating system. It also will
help them improve the quality of their core products by
allowing them to focus their time and resources on their
areas of expertise.
In addition, with the component architecture,
ISVs will be able to replace or extend the functionality
of the OSM easily, share components or enhancements with
other types of products, or simply use the underlying
libraries that provide system 'hooks' required by these
types of products.
Microsoft=92s licensing of OSM from Henter-Joyce
is part of an overall effort to make Windows the most
accessible operating system available. Microsoft is
committed to ensuring that accessibility is addressed
in Windows 95 by providing the following:
=B7 Guidelines for accessible software design that will
be promoted throughout the software industry
=B7 Published guidelines for accessible software design
=B7 The necessary application programming interfaces (APIs)
and libraries to allow ISVs to develop
high-quality accessibility aids, including
=B7 Documentation for Windows 95 and other Microsoft
products in an accessible ASCII text format at
no additional charge for people who have
difficulties reading or handling printed materials
=B7 An audio tutorial designed for users who are blind
=B7 A set of utilities, including Dvorak single-handed
keyboard layouts and other low-end accessibility
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ -MSFT-) is the
worldwide leader in software for personal computers.
The company offers a wide range of products and services
for business and personal use, each designed with the
mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people
to take advantage of the full power of personal
computing every day.
Microsoft, Windows and Windows NT are either registered
trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United
States and/or other countries.
JAWS is a trademark of Henter-Joyce.
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