Open Document Format enhanced for disabled users

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Open Document Format enhanced for disabled users

Latest version ratified as Oasis standard.

The Oasis international standards consortium today announced that its members have approved version 1.1 of the Open Document Format (ODF) for Office Applications as a Standard.

According to the organisation, the latest version of the standard provides accessibility enhancements to ensure that ODF addresses the needs of people with disabilities.

"The changes made in version 1.1. mean that OpenDocument now meets and even exceeds the accessibility support provided in other office file formats, as well as that specified by the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines," said Dave Pawson of the UK's Royal National Institute of the Blind.

"OpenDocument 1.1 is a practical XML format that is readily transformable to the Daisy digital talking book standard for people with print impairments.

"The clear specification of OpenDocument 1.1 will remain usable long after commercial and proprietary formats have been condemned to the dustbin."

OpenDocument 1.1 supports users who have low or no vision or who suffer from cognitive impairments.

The standard provides short alternative descriptive text for document elements such as hyperlinks, drawing objects and image map hot spots, and offers lengthy descriptions for the same objects should additional help be needed.

In addition to text documents and spreadsheets, OpenDocument defines presentation formats.

"Navigating through slide presentations poses particular difficulties for blind users. Often, the keyboard navigation order does not match the visual flow of the slides," said Don Harbison of IBM, co-chairman of the Oasis ODF Adoption Committee.

"OpenDocument 1.1 adds a provision for the author to define a logical keyboard navigation order."

Other OpenDocument accessibility features include the preservation of structural semantics imported from other file formats, such as headings in tables, and associations between drawings and their captions.

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