I know a few readers of this blog believe strongly in an Open Source movement in Assistive Technology. I sure wish that I could agree with that notion, however, I just can’t seem to grasp this concept for AT because of the need for the industry to be 12 to 18 months into development at any given time.
For example, many of the major players were at Microsoft HQ recently to discuss Windows 7 and Office 14. Some were even involved with Windows 7 pre October’s PDC. Their involvement with MS at this level is absolutely imperative to we Blind users who wish to have a good level of access to the operating system on the first day at the zero hour of launch. By the nature of some Open Source projects the projects themselves are reactionary rather than being proactive in their release schedules. Having a six month jump on a widely distributed beta could have a dramatic effect on the level of quality of the release. And in this example, and I am of course oversimplifying a bit for the sake of my point, access at the same level for an Open Source project could take six months or longer due to the need for the team to gain exposure to the code and programming changes.
I rely on Assistive Technology every day to do my job. And if I have to throw some money down to keep those quality releases coming then so be it really. I would rather that be the case than the reports coming out of Open Office. There is a lot of technical jargon in the link below but I suggest it as a good read for those who are interested in keeping the hopes alive for Open Source in AT.