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OpenDocument Format Accessibility and Disinformation (Updated)

Accessibility FUD has repeatedly been used to discredit ODF. False arguments typically came from Microsoft and their lobbyists despite the fact that ODF facilitates software such as screen readers much better than counterparts (watch this video with Mr. Korn).

Recently, accessibility was used as another PR stunt which involved "Open Source", the context being OOXML. This led to further confusion.

In response to criticism and FUD, iBM has been releasing some accessibility tools under open source licenses. This is the latest example.

The results of the project, as with all IBM OCR projects, will be "made available as open source software code, and all additional intellectual property developed based on those results will be openly published or made available royalty-free," according to IBM.


More about this here.

One of the problems raised with the use of ODF in Massachusetts was its lack of support for people with disabilities.


There are many older examples, e.g.:



Whatever you are told and whatever you read about ODF and accessibility, be aware that there is a lot of noise and very little truth. ODF no longer has any deficiencies that are associated with the disabled.

Update: a new press release [PDF from the ODF alliance (yes, the real thing, not the so-called Foundation) talks about the increased support for OpenDocument format.

"We congratulate the Netherlands, South Africa,and Korea for recognizing ODF, each in its own way, and look forward to the movement's continued momentum in the new year. ODF enables diverse government agencies to work better with one another at lower cost and gives them access to their own information, so it is no wonder that so many governments are taking this action."


The newly-released GPLv3 variant has some early adopters as well, including jPOS.

The Free Software Foundation has released the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL v3.0), a license we’ve been waiting for a long time that will allow us to open source more code such as the jCard (our Card Management System) and jPTS (an ISO-8583/2003 based jPOS Transaction Switch) projects.

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