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Massachusetts to Release ODF Update

by Martin LaMonica, CNET Blog

The Massachusetts Information Technology Division on Wednesday is scheduled to send a letter to disability advocacy groups to address accessibility and the state's move to the OpenDocument format, according to a government spokesperson. The letter will be called a mid-year assessment on ODF and will address accessibility, said Felix Browne, a spokesman for the administration of Governor Mitt Romney said on Tuesday. The Information Technology Division (ITD), part of the state's executive branch, has caught international attention for its decision to save documents in the OpenDocument format, or ODF, by January, 2007. The ITD had been planning on releasing a mid-year assessment on its ODF implementation this summer in conjunction with Secretary of Administration and Finance. In early July [2006], Louis Gutierrez said that the assessment would address the question of accessibility for people with disabilities and the timeline for implementation. The state has also engaged consulting firm EDS to do a five year cost-benefit analysis on the moving to ODF. On Friday last week, Gutierrez met with people who represent disability groups to share the contents of the letter, according to one person familiar with the meeting. State IT officials have come under harsh criticism from disabilities groups for not adequately accessibility in its ODF policy. This approach, which Gutierrez called promising in July, would allow people with disabilities to continue using accessibility tools optimized for Microsoft Office, rather than less mature open-source productivity suites which support OpenDocument.
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