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Thank you, Pete
Pete is one of the most outstanding accessibility experts in the industry. When I started in accessibility back in 1990 Pete worked in IBM Special Needs Systems on leading edge projects that advanced the industry. In the last few years Pete has been involved with the Linux and Windows accessibility efforts as well as the enablement of the Dojo widget library for WAI-ARIA. His knowledge of accessibility infrastructure on these two platforms is extensive. Pete understands the needs of both assistive technologies, applications, and the platform infrastructure of both Windows and Linux.
His greatest accomplishment, I believe, is his work on IAccessible2. IAccessible2 is the first accessibility API to advance the accessibility capabilities of Windows applications. It made it possible for IBM to make ODF and Symphony accessible on Windows. Furthermore, its implementation in Firefox made WAI-ARIA possible and raised the bar for accessibility for all the Web browsers we use today. Pete chaired the IAccessible2 working group in the Linux Foundation Open Accessibility initiative and helped coordinate its support in Symphony and JAWS. Pete worked directly with Freedom Scientific in ensuring that we had an accessibility API that worked. Pete’s understanding of MSAA and the Windows accessibility framework are outstanding.
Pete’s strong technical skills brought change to the industry and his strong communication, people, and organization skills helped to produce the first Windows accessibility API standard in an open standards body. These skills also helped me get IBM to deliver a fully accessible office suite in a year. This effort was done across two continents. Doing this in a year is unprecedented.
IBM Software Group Accessibility Architect/Strategist
Pete is a great team member for a number of reasons. First, he is an unquestioned expert in how to make accessible software. Pete never wavers — he just tracks and addresses all issues, whether simple or complex, and steadily brings a project to completion. And to top it all off, Pete is a wonderful person to be around, always pleasant and easy-going, caring, and nice to share a laugh with.
Senior Software Engineer
IBM Software Group, Accessibility Architecture and Development
Pete Brunet is one of the most intelligent, dedicated humans I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He is hard-working, dogged in pursuit of perfection and so very smart. More importantly, he is a kind and gentle person who can work with anyone.
If you are looking for a superb person to work for you, hire Pete Brunet. He is truly one in a million.
IBM Research, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
I have had the pleasure of working with Pete for the past ten years. He is a seasoned software engineer with experience in many technologies who could probably do any type of software engineering or architecture job. In addition to excellent software engineering skills across a broad spectrum of technologies, Pete has unique experience in the field of accessibility for people with disabilities.
In addition to his hands on experience in AT and IT accessibility, Pete is also experienced in standards development in organizations such as The Linux Foundation. Standards work requires a special blend of both technical and interpersonal skill to navigate complex political situations and Pete has excelled at both. With his deep technical skill, calm demeanor and methodical approach to his work, he is highly effective in standards work. Any organization looking for a solid software engineer would be lucky to have him. Any organization looking for accessibility skills would hit the jackpot with Pete.
Accessibility Standards Program Manager
IBM Research, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
I have known and worked with Pete for a number of years on accessibility related activities for IBM. He has demonstrated extreme professionalism in all the projects we have worked on together. Pete is a skilled Java developer and strong team leader. We worked together on an IBM internal technology to allow Java Swing programs to act as their own screen readers. Pete lead the development of the version we worked on together. Many IBM products include this technology. Pete has been involved in IBM’s accessibility efforts for many years and is extremely well versed in the issues relating to making computers useful tools for persons with disabilities. Pete’s latest effort in leading the industry in the development of the IAccessible2 interface has made a major contribution to the accessibility of the web. He has demonstrated both determination and the appropriate level of consideration that is needed to drive a public standard.
Sr. Principal SDE
I am Hironobu Takagi, an advisory researcher at IBM Research, Tokyo Research Laboratory. I have worked with Pete on many projects including the standardization of accessibility for the OpenDocument Format. Everybody who knows Pete appreciates his technical skills. Therefore, I would like to bring a slightly different angle from “the other side of the earth”.
In this globalization era, the skills required for global collaboration are increasing their importance beyond time differences, language differences, and information gaps with limited communication bandwidth. The field of accessibility is not an exception. Pete demonstrated outstanding skills for global collaboration throughout his career, especially in his end-to-end office editor accessibility work. The accessibility of office editors is especially challenging for screen reader users. These problems cause various kinds of unfair disadvantages for the blind community, spanning education, initial employment, and career development. The IBM Software Group has tried to tackle the problems by creating a new accessibility architecture. Pete led significant parts of this work, and some of the challenges he overcame included constraints of global collaboration.
First, the specifications of office documents themselves had to be overhauled. The OpenDocument Format (ODF) Accessibility Subcommittee started to work on this goal. Three people from my team joined in this work along with Pete. We collaborated with him in the committee as we compared the specs with various related XML standards, worked through the specs looking for gaps, and created and proposed many new solutions. He was always a good collaborator and tried to encourage other people’s opinions with his calm and earnest attitude. We were able to work together without any stress and remained steadily focused on achieving our technical goals. As a result, we were able to deliver the enhanced accessibility features for the ODF 1.1 specification of February 2007.
Unfortunately, the document format is only one aspect of the office editor accessibility. A good Accessibility API should provide as much text information as the various screen readers require. Also, the office editors should be updated to be capable of using the accessibility information defined in the improved document specifications and be capable of transmitting sufficient information through the new API. Amazingly, he covered both kinds of work with his global partners. In order to create a new API, which became the international standard “IAccessible2”, a committee was formed within the Linux Foundation, and Pete was the leader of that highly effective committee. Meanwhile, Lotus Symphony, IBM’s office editor, was being created by a development team located in China, and Pete steadily supported their development work and helped guide them as they created this new product. The accessibility of Symphony was featured as one of the highlights of the product announcement.
I cannot overemphasize how much I value his skills and his characteristics for global collaboration. He always stays calm, never gets excited, listens carefully and insightfully to less-than-fluent English, and encourages everyone as they work toward the goals. I really thank Pete for his service to our company with his indispensable skills, especially for us, his partners around the world. I strongly believe these skills will change the industrial landscape again through his global collaborations in other organizations in the near future.
Hironobu Takagi, PhD
IBM Research, Tokyo Research Laboratory
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