Accessibility features for next version of Qt

My main programming interest is Qt, which is a programming toolkit which allows the same program to be deployed on the Mac, Windows, and X-Window systems such as exist on Linux and Solaris. One common issue with just about every platform except Windows is its lack of accessibility for (in particular) visually impaired people.

Most (if not all?) blind people who use Windoze use the screen-reading software Jaws, which is known to have compatibility problems with some software including just about all web browsers except Internet Explorer, which is well-known for its security problems. As for the Mac and Linux, accessibility for these platforms is in its infancy, except for a text-based interface for Linux, although Apple is said to be bringing its accessibility up to scratch for the next installment of OS X (due out next year) in order to chase US government grants. Trouble is, most popular Linux software is graphical, based on any number of interface toolkits: the old ones use XView or Motif, the newer ones GTK+ or Qt, a few use their own toolkits. This doesn’t make it easy for people writing accessibility software; in fact, it may make the writing of general accessibility software for Unix impossible.

So, it’s welcome that Trolltech, the company behind Qt, have got round to developing their own accessibility features for the next release of Qt, which is a fantastic toolkit, and it makes developing windowed software so much easier, which of course, makes for better programs. I think it is about time visually impaired people had access, like the rest of us, to virus-free and cracker-free computing on decent and freely available operating systems.

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