We already know that Freedom Scientific’s JAWS end user license agreement is not friendly to mainstream developers and testers as they work to implement accessibility into their products, services and web sites. As a follow on to this concern, we now hear from Craig Stuntz who reports that no developer program exists for those who have purchased JAWS for this critical purpose. In his most recent blog article, he writes:
One would think that the makers of JAWS would want software producers to test their products with JAWS. But according to a salesperson for Freedom Scientific, there is no developer program for the tool. JAWS is moderately expensive â€” about $900 â€” but this is not a barrier for us. What we would really like is to have access to a defect reporting system for JAWS and early access to future versions of the software.
We in the connected online blind community very much do want to see developers striving to improve the accessibility of their applications! The accessibility or inaccessibility of technology makes the difference between our inclusion or exclusion from participation in critical life activities such as those involving education and employment. We urge mainstream developers to continue their efforts using screen readers from companies and open source projects that actively invite and request participation from the mainstream developer community:
- Window-Eyes by GW Micro
- System Access by Serotek
- Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) by NV Access – A Free Open Source Project
We ask all mainstream developers to increase the accessibility of their software and to do so in the most favorable economic manner. Spending a thousand dollars on a screen reader for testing purposes is unnecessary. Download free evaluation copies from companies with more friendly license agreements toward developers or take advantage of free open source alternatives. Accessibility need not break the bank. We’re not asking you to go out of business. Instead, we are just asking for the reasonable accomodations that can afford us the opportunity to learn, work and participate in leisure activities.
Why not also call on Freedom Scientific and GW Micro to be more open with developers and engage in a constructive dialogue with developers so that the overall experience for screenreader users is improved?
There’s only so much a developer can do bashing his head against the brickwall that currently exists between developers and screen reader vendors.
Encouraging openness in both directions between the screen reader vendor and application developers is in your own best interests too.