A barrier-free language

Accessibility JEP: JavaFX to become more accessible

JAXenter Editorial Team

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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