ODF: The Better, More Affordable Office Standard?
I know that Brian Charlson is sincere about his desire to make sure that access is maintained to office documents for people with disabilities. He has a long track record of supporting accessible computer technology.
However, when he said, "The blindness community wants to make sure it's not against ODF [OpenDocument format]. We're against implementation without a guarantee that we won't lose the [few] jobs we have" at the Open Forum on the Future of Electronic Data Formats for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I think it's too easy to take this the wrong way.
Yes, many products already exist that can make existing Microsoft formats more usable. However, the key word is 'existing.'
Even if you buy that Microsoft's Open XML will be a true open-standard-which I, and many others, certainly don't-it's not the format that's being used and supported today.
One way or the other, people with disabilities are going to have to buy or have their existing equipment upgraded to be able to use tomorrow's office documents.
At least in the case of ODF, the standard already exists. Open XML doesn't exist yet as a Microsoft proposal. There is no Office 12 yet. There is no Ecma Open XML standard yet. There will be, but that's not today.