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The following describes an existing Mozilla program in terms consistent with my personal framework for strategic grantmaking:

  • Problem: The state of the art in web applications was advancing much faster than our ability to make them accessible to people with disabilities, and we were still struggling to address basic Firefox accessibility issues.
  • Entrepreneurial partner: Aaron Leventhal of IBM.
  • Internal champion: Frank Hecker.
  • Short-term goal: Improve the accessibility of Firefox and Thunderbird.
  • Long-term vision: Use open source to change the dynamic of the assistive technology industry and integrate accessibility into leading-edge web technologies and web development practices.
  • Strategy and analysis: We did an initial analysis on why accessibility was important to Mozilla (and vice versa). This was followed by a subsequent proposed vision and strategy which was eventually refined to create the current Mozilla accessibility strategy.
  • Activities: Activities under the Mozilla Accessibility program have included:
    • direct funding of accessibility improvements to Firefox, Thunderbird, and related Mozilla products
    • direct funding of open source assistive technologies to be used with Mozilla and other products
    • support of development of the WAI ARIA specification for accessibility of advanced web applications
    • sponsoring (through direct funding and otherwise) a critical mass of open source accessibility developers
  • Funding: Accessibility-related grants from the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation amounted to just over $1M over the last four years (2006-2009), or about $250K/year on average. Almost all of this was to fund Mozilla-related and other software development. Note that funding levels were relatively high because for much of this period accessibility was the major focus of grantmaking at the Mozilla Foundation. Note also that this figure does not include Mozilla Corporation internal investments in accessibility-related development, QA, and other activities.
  • Partners: Other organizations funding work related to or directly in support of Mozilla accessibility activities include
    • Mozilla Corporation (hiring of accessibility experts to do development and QA, funding third-party development)
    • IBM (GNOME accessibility initiatives, WAI-ARIA, IAccessible2)
    • Sun (GNOME accessibility initiatives, other)
    • Google (WAI-ARIA)
    • Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Adobe (funding of NVDA development)