JavaOne Tokyo '05: A Note on Accessibility
On a recent trip to the restroom at the Tokyo International Forum, I was reminded about accessibility. Having been trained well (thanks Mom!), I always wash my hands after visiting the restroom for any reason. However, doing so in a public restroom is almost always frustrating because...well, I'm short and when I reach up to grab a paper towel, the water runs down my arms. No luck with air dryers either; in the US they're often just as high on the wall as the towel dispensers. However, I was pleasantly surprised, almost tickled even, to find an accessible hand dryer in Tokyo. It was low enough on the wall that I could just reach down to use it. Here's a front, side, and top shot of my discovery.
Just extend your hands down into the slot, the warm air begins to blow, and you move your hands up and down in the air to completely dry them. Nice. And no wet elbows or armpits, yeck. That's the way to make and to place a hand dryer...accessible and usable.
This experience made me think about the Java platform's accessibility efforts. The accessibility spec has been available since when, 1.3? This API provides mechanisms to make your applications easier to use for people with certain disabilities. The APIs help other assistive technologies like screen or text readers work better with Java applications. Navigational features help people get around your application in a variety of ways. It's a good thing, and probably should get more attention. I don't know if anything new in the accessibility area will reveal itself here at the conference or not, but maybe it should in the future. If you know of anything here at the conference, please let me know.
I suddenly have a new interest in Java's assistive technologies. If you're interested too, these URLs will help you get started:
- Java Accessibility Overview
- Accessibility Enhancements in 1.5
- Accessibility Utilities
- Accessibility and Swing