The move to Web-2.0 coincides with the move from a web of documents to a web of applications — where Web Applications are in turn built out of web parts see Toward 2^W — Beyond Web-2.0. Web Applications were now significantly easier to build — one no longer needed to build such applications as browser plugins
Leveraging The Web Browser For Accessibility
At the end of 2002, I attended a Mozilla Developer Day where I saw what would could be done within the browser using HTML, XUL, CSS and XBL. Alphabet soup aside, the combination of these technologies created the potential for writing powerful Web applications without resorting to custom plugins and platform-specific C or C++ code. I spent a few weeks at the end of that year on building TalkZilla — speech extension for Mozilla, but gave up after failing to successfully implement Text-To-Speech within the platform using XPCom in the 2 weeks I had alloted myself. But in the process, it became evident that sooner or later, it would become possible to build the next generation of access technologies purely within the browser.
Fire Vox — A Talking Extension for Firefox
In fall of 2005, I moved on from my work on W3C XForms and revisited the possibility of building access technology in to the browser when I started at Google. This time around, I decided to expose the Text-To-Speech layer as a local HTTP server, and accessed the service using XML HTTP Request in Firefox — the layer that had been hard to build in 2002 was now implementable in under a day. I began seriously exploring the browser-based accessibility solution route once again, and coincidentally discovered Charles Chen's work on Fire Vox. As it turned out, he had done the rest of the work — using platform-specific speech services such as SAPI, he had created a Firefox extension that not only provided spoken access to the document-oriented Web-1.0 — his work demonstrated the power of browser-based access technologies by delivering the first implementation of W3C ARIA within Firefox 1.5.
Web Applications And Spoken Access
From Greasemonkey To Chrome Extensions
Exposing Platform Services To Web Applications
Conclusion: And The Best Is Yet To Come!