ODF and Disability Rights
Massachusetts' open source ambitions have been hit by a disability rights group that argues that some disabled office workers are reliant on technologies not supported by open source applications.
The Disability Policy Consortium has persuaded the CIO of Massachusetts' IT division, Louis Gutierrez, to postpone the implementation of plans to use the Open Document Format (ODF) for all office files from the beginning of 2007.
The consortium is concerned that 'users who have visual, mobility, cognitive, or speech disabilities' will be disadvantaged by the lack of support for screen readers or speech recognition software in open source applications such as OpenOffice and Sun Microsystems' StarOffice that use ODF.
Instead Gutierrez will investigate plug-ins that enable ODF files to be created from Microsoft Office and other Windows applications.
In a joint statement with the Bay State Council of the Blind, the Disability Policy Consortium said in January that disabled workers are reliant on Windows technologies.