Massachusetts and Open Source's Cost to the Disabled

The blind man in the red shirt stood up. A German Shepherd in a leather harness dozed at his feet, under the folding plastic chairs, in the warmth of winter sun coming in low through the windows at the Massachusetts State House. Brian Charlson pulled at the PDA around his neck. Housed in a leather pouch, it was about as big as an IBM ThinkPad X31.

"It took me six years to raise the money" to buy this, he told attendees at Wednesday's Open Forum on the Future of Electronic Data Formats for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "It cost me $6,000." This is the conundrum summed up in the questions posed by Charlson, vice president of computer training for the Carroll Center for the Blind. The commonwealth can in all likelihood figure out a standard of accessibility for the disabled, whether that standard is encapsulated in the open-source OpenDocument format or whether the door is left open for proprietary formats such as Microsoft Corp.'s Open XML Office.

News source: eWeek

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