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Applets

Applets are small programs, generally written in the Java programming language, delivered as Web content and carried out by the user agent. Applets depend on other programs to convert the Java program code into usable instructions for the user device. Originally developed by Sun Microsystems as a multiplatform, platform-independent, object-oriented programming language, Java allows versatility limited only by the imagination of the programmer. Many Java applets are freely available for download from the Web to perform a variety of functions, from simple tasks such as special visual effects to more complex functions such as weather simulations, site search engines, online games, and mathematical and financial calculations. As applets were introduced to the Web via Sun’s HotJava browser, they excited the industry but posed serious accessibility barriers.

Most assistive technologies are not written to support the Java platform, so Java environments, including applets for the Web, were completely inaccessible to most assistive technologies for several years after Java was launched publicly in 1996. The Trace Research and Development Center, in Madison, Wisconsin, fostered cooperative, industry-wide research to address the accessibility problems created by Java applets. In 1998, Sun introduced the Java Access Bridge, a technology targeted at developers of assistive technologies, to enable designers to create products that can work with Windows and Java applications. The Java2 platform introduced the Java Accessibility API, which has the goal of creating the appropriate hooks to allow assistive technology devices to interact with Java applications.


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