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PR: Sun Announces Plans to Establish Accessibility Lab and Works with GNOME Foundation to Establish Fund

PALO ALTO, CA — Sun Microsystems today announced it will
establish an Accessibility Technologies Lab to work on technology
development for people with disabilities. The lab will work to
develop an assistive technologies framework for utilities, device
drivers, and voice interaction capabilities for the upcoming GNOME
2.0–a free, open-source, and easy-to-use user environment. In
addition, Sun also announced it will be working with the GNOME
Foundation, an organization of open community developers and
leading high-technology companies, to establish the GNOME
Foundation accessibility development fund that will be used to
provide grants for projects that provide research and that develop
assistive technology for the GNOME user environment. This fund will
be managed by the GNOME Foundation.

The announcements were made today in Flint, Michigan where
President Clinton traveled to announce commitments that the
Administration, companies, universities and non-profits are making
to create “digital opportunity” for people with disabilities.

“The White House is delighted that Sun is working to make the
GNOME open source user environment accessible,” said Thomas A.
Kalil, Special Assistant to President Clinton for Economic Policy.
“The commitments that Sun and other companies and non-profit
organizations are making today will help ensure that the 54 million
Americans with disabilities are full participants in the
Information Age.”

“Sun Microsystems has always promoted the tenets of Universal
Design, which hold that products, solutions, and services should be
developed to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent
possible, without adaptation or specialized design,” said Marco
Boerries, vice president and general manager of webtop and
application software at Sun Microsystems, Inc. “Our help in making
the GNOME user environment accessible to people with disabilities
is simply a continuation of our desire to create accessible
products and technologies. Through the formation of our new lab and
establishment of the GNOME Foundation accessibility development
fund, Sun is committed to building the tools and infrastructure to
make it easy for the developer to deliver on the promise IT holds
for people with disabilities.”

Sun is establishing a Sun Microsystems engineering lab which
will focus on the establishment and delivery of accessibility
technologies. Sun’s Accessibility Technologies Lab will work with
the GNOME Community to establish a project which will deliver the
design of the GNOME Accessibility Technologies Framework and
deliver it into the GNOME user environment. This framework will
provide developers with the necessary platform support to develop a
wide range of products– from Internet appliances to supercomputing
desktop products– that will be fully accessible to people with
disabilities. The lab is scheduled to begin its work with the GNOME
community before the end of calendar year 2000, with the goal of
having the GNOME Accessibility Project available in GNOME 2.0.

“We will ensure that accessibility support is built right into
the GNOME user environment so developers can easily integrate
accessibility into all the applications they develop,” continued
Boerries. “Providing this integration makes it easy for developers
to create a wide range of products, which ultimately expands the
reach of computing and network services to everyone.”

Sun will also be working with the GNOME Foundation to establish
a fund that will be used to provide grants for projects that
provide research and that develop assistive technology for the
GNOME user environment. The fund will be administered by the GNOME
Foundation, which will accept submissions for grants from
corporations and individuals.

Later in the year, Sun is planning on sponsoring a summit
meeting that will bring together experts, partners, and
contributors to kick off the GNOME open source accessibility. This
summit will focus on understanding the opportunities for developing
and extending accessibility technologies for compting and the
network. It will also run a workshop to establish coordination of
the development projects. Leaders in the field of accessibility
will be invited to participate.

About GNOME and the GNOME Foundation
The GNOME project has built a completely free and easy-to-use
desktop environment, as well as a powerful application framework
for software developers on Linux and other operating systems
similar to the UNIX platform. The GNOME Foundation will provide
organizational, financial and legal support to the GNOME project,
and help determine its vision and roadmap. Present members include
Compaq, Eazel, Free Software Foundation, Gnumatic, Hewlett Packard,
Helix Code, Henzai, IBM, Object Management Group, Red Hat, Sun
Microsystems, TurboLinux and VA Linux. Collab.Net, the leading
provider of collaborative software development services based on
open source principles, is helping to organize the GNOME
Foundation. GNOME is part of the GNU project, an effort to build a
completely free operating system better known as GNU/Linux or
Linux, which will be similar to the UNIX platform. Additional
information is available at www.gnome.org.