The Source for Java -
The Road Ahead
Version 1.2

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The Road Ahead

With the release of JDK 1.2, the core foundation of accessibility support in the Java Foundation is completed and released. The work ahead involves additions to the Java Accessibility API to cover new components that will be added to the Java Foundation Classes (and provide more detailed coverage of a few of the existing, complex components); evolving the Java Accessibility Utilities; finishing the Java Accessibility Bridge; and incorporating the accessibility support into Sun's Java products.

The Java Accessibility API

The Java Accessibility API is well defined, and implemented on all of the user interface components of the Java Foundation Classes. As new user interface component are added, we will need to ensure that they properly support the Java Accessibility API. In addition, we plan on evolving the Java Accessibility API itself to include new interfaces, such as AccessibleTable and AccessibleDocument, which will provide a richer and more detailed contract to describe the contents of these kinds of components.

The Java Accessibility Utilities

The Java Accessibility Utilities continue to evolve, though we're striving to make the changes backwards compatible.  Future work may include a more serious effort on the AWT translators, though we're strongly encouraging application developers to use the Swing user interface classes.

The Java Accessibility Bridge to Native Code

The Java Accessibility Bridge is the least defined portion of the current Java Accessibility work at Sun. Each platform the bridge works on requires a different implementation, and care must be taken in the design so that it will work on every Java platform. Sun is actively working with assistive technology vendors to implement the Java Accessibility Bridge to the Win32 platform.

Areas to focus on in the future

While the four areas in Java Accessibility that Sun is focusing on now are the key core areas, there are other parts of the Java platform that need to be addressed from an Accessibility point of view. That focus isn't possible until there is a defined Java Accessibility API, support for assistive technologies to get at that API, and a Pluggable Look and Feel architecture. But once those pieces are released, it will be time to focus on these other areas. They are as follows:


The Java Operating System is designed to run on very thin clients - Network Computers, that will be used more and more in place of the larger and more expensive personal computers of today. The current released version of the JavaOS, JavaOS 1.0, is based on JDK1.0.2. The next release, JavaOS 1.1, is based on JDK1.1. Sun is targeting the release after JavaOS 1.1, based on the forthcoming release of the JDK, for full Accessibility support.

Sun's Java Applications

Sun has released several Java applications and has more in the works. Released applications include the Java Web Server, Java WorkShopTM, and Visual Java. Once the Java Accessibility API is released, Sun can start supporting it in updates to their existing Java applications, as well as the new Java applications Sun releases after that time. This support will come in many instances by virtue of using and/or switching to Swing as the means for the user interfaces of these programs.
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