A barrier-free language

Accessibility JEP: JavaFX to become more accessible

JAX Editorial Team
disabled

A new accessibility JEP is bringing accessibility support to JavaFX with screen readers and a high-contrast mode.

Design for everyone – that’s the motto for a new JDK
enhancement proposal for
JavaFX
controls. The idea behind proposal JEP 205 is that existing
controls should be improved to create and support technical
assistance. A public API is also to be created so that developers
can even write their own barrier-free controls.

Do programming languages really need more
accessibility?

Accessibility is not just an important issue for urban
spaces and train stations, it’s also important for working with
computers. Accessibility gives everyone the opportunity to engage
with the digital world – even widget toolkits have a duty to be
widely accessible, especially as they want to be adopted by
industrial and political sectors.

For JavaFX, accessibility means providing support for
a screen reader. Furthermore, all JavaFX controls need to be usable
with a keyboard. A high contrast mode also needs to be supported in
order to aid better visibility for controls.

But this development of Java FX is no simple matter –
various kinds of controls will need to be revisited, meaning that
all layers will need modifications:

  • Glass layer (abstraction of OS)

  • Prism layer (pixels on a monitor)

  • Quantum layer (connects glass and prism)

Automated testing will prove to be another difficulty
in JavaFX’s push for increased accessibility, says the author of
the proposal, Stephen Northover, who claims testing “is likely to
be intensive and manual.”

As well as being being barrier-free, JavaFX should be
improved with new controls. JEP 205 is recommending
three new controls for Java FX: a Spinner, formatted text and an
alarm dialogue. Meanwhile, the ControlsFX project is working on
supplementing Java FX with new Ul elements and tools.

Feature image by taberandrew

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