In an effort to move work related instant messaging traffic in house, my employer has decided to switch away from AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) to a solution that can be deployed on an internal server. The server will be based on the open source Jabber (XPP) protocols. As soon as I learned the protocol to be used, it felt like deja vu. I will explain the reason later.

After learning this news, I began a search for an accessible Jabber instant messaging client. Our local IT staff recommended a messenger client called GAIM, which has been renamed to Pidgin due to a trademark issue with America Online over the use of the term AIM. (Oh, no! There we go again!) After working with Pidgin for just a few minutes, I realized that it was going to be totally inaccessible for my needs. It appears to have been written using GTK+, which appears to be a UNIX GUI toolkit ported over to Windows. As a result, Pidgin might work extremely well with a Gnome screen reader like Orca. I also wonder how this might work on the Mac with VoiceOver. Our Linux, other *nix based and Mac user friends will, hopefully, set us straight.

Finally, I remembered the reason for my previous deja vu experience. While working as a network administrator for Amerion, I set up and utilized the Exodus Jabber instant messenger client back in 2001 to communicate with internal colleagues. Though changes have been made to the software since that time, my initial testing with Exodus shows it to be quite accessible after a couple of minor control reclassifications. Our IT staff has not yet implemented the new server, so I am not able to test this new client internally. If anyone would be interested in testing this client with me using public Jabber servers, please download and install your own copy of Exodus and send me e-mail so we can set a time to get together.