IBM is contributing software to the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox Web browser to make it easier for disabled users to access the Internet.

Company spokesman Ari Fishkind said IBM was donating 50,000 lines of code to Firefox. The contributed code will enable web pages to be narrated or magnified automatically. Users will also be able to navigate pages from their keyboards rather than with a mouse.

IBM said it is contributing Dynamic HTML accessibility technology to Version 1.5 of Firefox. This will enable software developers to build "rich Internet applications," a new class of applications designed to ease accessibility and navigation of the Web for the disabled and the elderly, IBM said. RIAs can run without requiring users to install additional programs on their PCs.

The company said web developers could create pages that reduce the amount of tabbing required to navigate a document such as a spreadsheet to help minimise keystrokes for users with mobility impairments.

"IBM's commitment to further Firefox's capabilities and reach people who have disabilities marks an important technical advancement for Firefox. On a larger scale, it is necessary to make the web and all of its content accessible to everyone," said Mitchell Baker, president of Mozilla.