You know, it's interesting how communist and anarchist and socialist FOSS folks all think they're on higher moral ground than capitalists, and then you look at how they treat disabled people through the software they write, and you find that big capitalist corporations, particularly Apple, treat blind and other disabled people with more equality than *most* FOSS projects, and even corporate FOSS like RHEL and Ubuntu. I'm not saying Apple is perfect, walled gardens rarely are. But the number of accessibility customizations, and the thoughtful implimentation and stability of those features, show that they at least know how to keep most of the blind community on their side. FOSS rarely even tries. Remember, you can judge people by how they treat the most vulnerable among them. Just something to think about, y'all, when you feel superior and elite. So when you think communism works, or socialism works, or anarchism works, think of me.

Probably companies like Apple treat blind users better, because they are so much welknown that it would really harm them if they don't...?
Though yeah, that should not mean any small FOSS project can just ignore blind people...

@storydragon It wouldn't harm them, not really. As long as they met the basics mandated by law, they'd be entirely fine. Android's accessibility was terrible for a while, and still isn't on the same level, and of course Google isn't in any trouble over it. And even if they were, such a huge company could no doubt shrug it off.

@Mayana @devinprater
I mean, I would guess that a big company would get a big angry crowd if much people hear they are not accessible? ?

But well, maybe I don't have such a good view on how people do. I don't live that long yet.

@storydragon @Mayana @devinprater
FOSS licenses certainly all include the "no guarantees of fitness for any purpose" clause, so you technically can't sue them. I don't know if corporate EULAs have similar stuff.

But also self taught people often won't even run into topics like accessibility (it's not even mandatory in university, even though it Really Should Be) so you get a lot of "works for me". Or people making everything as curses TUI apps because they think it makes them look cool or that it's lightweight (even though terminals can't refresh as fast as proper GUIs) and then good luck trying to shoehorn a screen reader integration.

@storydragon @Mayana @devinprater
But it looks like things are improving, although not as quickly as they should.
Anyways, programming classes should include a discussion of the curb effect early on.

@grainloom @storydragon @Mayana Yes, definitely! If you use Python, Tkinter seems pretty accessible by default. I'm just a beginner programmer though.

@grainloom @storydragon @Mayana @devinprater All the EULAs and ToS(s)es I've seen, included similar clauses: like, "yeah, you owe us, we owe you nothing, serf".

P.S. "FOSS" 👎

@grainloom @storydragon @Mayana @devinprater Pretty sure the EULA for JAWS has this clause, which always amused me. I don't think that it is the shieled that they think it is though. You might be screwed as an individual but that defense doesn't scale well. In certain settings like education or enterprise, you do have to adhere to certain legal standards no matter what your license agreement says.

@objectinspace @grainloom @storydragon @Mayana yep. So if open source wants to be used in the government, it'll have to be accessible. Usually. As long as the government agency cares.

@devinprater I understand your concern... I think #FOSS devs (other than the vision impaired FOSS devs out there, I know a couple) generally haven't developed the rather specialised skills required to achieve good software interface/web design accessibility. On the other hand, Apple has $hundreds of billions of cash from its exploitative profits. It is therefore trivially cheap for them to invest many $millions in accessibility that the FOSS community simply can't muster.

@devinprater FOSS development should receive funding from gov'ts because it's a common good. Having this done at the whim of a $trillion predatory US corporation is cold comfort... they could decide it's no longer adding to their profit at any point, and drop it. As it happens, my day job involves providing free training for devs in accessibility (all delivered via FOSS) - see We're keen to see #FOSS devs taking this up!

@lightweight They could. And they pretty much have on the Mac, which yeah, that's awful. But at least there's enough on the Mac to still keep the wheels rolling, if slowly, for accessibility. On Linux, the wheels roll in fits and starts and sharp stops. And web accessibility, while great, is not GTK accessibility, nor QT accessibility. I'm not trying to say the accessibility efforts in FOSS are bad, it's very worth it, so that I can at least use Linux to the point where I can get some work done. But it could be so much better if many more developers cared, or even if the accessibility interfaces, in GTK and QT, were more stable and expansive.

@devinprater Agreed. I think the opportunities for accessibility-capable #FOSS developers are vast. Increasing awareness among FOSS devs is important, and making the ability to *learn* about it (given that it's expensive to retrofit, but doesn't add much to up-front-cost if devs know how to do it) as accessible to FOSS devs as possible will be the best route forward (in addition to petitioning gov'ts to fund FOSS dev with accessibility as a requirement)...

@lightweight I agree. Plus, there's some law somewhere, section 508 I think, that says that if something is to be used by the government, it must be accessible. You'd think that'd light a fire under developers, but I guess they don't care so much about their software actually being used by the government. Well, the US government at least, lol. Other countries should have similar laws, though.

@devinprater I'm from the US but live in NZ. No gov't procurement processes I'm aware of are even vaguely competent when it comes to IT standards. Bascially, they all take whatever the "Frightful Five" are foisting onto the market and never look at anyone else, so there's little incentive to anyone to raise their level. And, with #FOSS, if gov'ts were even a tiny bit savvy, they'd invest a bit in improving #FOSS rather than paying through nose for proprietary rubbish. See

@lightweight @devinprater this is also why JAWS still has a stronghold in the govt orgs and NVDA doesn‘t stand a chance. A license costs a thousand bucks, so it *must* be better. I use NVDA as my screen reader of choice since switching to Windows 7 from XP in late 2009. I do use JAWS sometimes for job-related testing, recently tried using it as my daily driver again, but gave up after a few days. FOSS is definitely better for me!

@devinprater @lightweight And of course NVDA made the Switch from 7 to 10 a seamless experience. They were, BTW, the first of the non-Microsoft screen readers to support touch screens in Windows 8. The commercial ones took longer and charged an upgrade fee.

@marcozehe @devinprater seems to me that the incentive for those who personally benefit from well integrated, up-to-date assistive technologies is very strong! I'd love to see people with vision challenges joining open source projects to encourage designing-with-accessibiility - I'd suggest (speaking from personal experience) that most #FOSS projects would *love* to have that kind of input.and would love to make their code more accessible.... it simply doesn't occur to many FOSS devs.

@lightweight @devinprater I've been contributing my knowledge, and sometimes code, to FOSS projects over the years already. The experience was good in some cases, not so much in others. And sometimes, my issues went completely ignored, too. But I will continue to do so, and in future, maybe even more in the Linux space. Not sure where yet, though. ;-)

@marcozehe @devinprater FOSS communities are like any others - they'll either resonate and be welcoming or not :) - if you find one in which you feel welcomed, valued, and which meets a need you have, then go with it, enthusiastically, as long as it lasts! :) The cool thing about #FOSS communities: when they work for you, they can not only "scratch your itch" but also help tens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of others, too. Not many other communities have that scope. That's pretty cool.

@lightweight @marcozehe I try to do that, but it gets hard and harder to justify it to myself every time I'm simply ignored. And yeah, it's not like there are a bunch of us letting developers know. But if I want more blind folks on Linux, I have to keep going.

@devinprater @marcozehe as a fellow advocate (albeit with a slightly different passion, but very sympathetic to your case!), it's up hill all the way (I've been advocating FOSS for more than 20 years now, esp to gov'ts), but it's very hard going when the bad guys (and they are bad) have all the money and most of the access. All I can say is keep fighting the good fight! You're on the right side, without a doubt.

@lightweight @marcozehe Oh wow, yeah, governments. The department of the agency I work for (opinions my own and not that of my employer and all that bullcrap), try to use as much open source as we can. I use Linux at work as much as possible, but we still have to use GSuite and Salesforce, and teach Windows, although we do teach the NVDA screen reader, which is open source, and rarely teach JAWS, the $1099 proprietary screen reader. The wider agency doesn't care of course, and the people we serve definitely wouldn't sync their data with an open source Salesforce alternative. But, we do as much as we can.

@lightweight @marcozehe > FOSS is definitely better for me!

Well, you're still on Windows. 😄 I'm trying to use Linux, taking FOSS to its conclusion. Or something.

@lightweight @devinprater I tried it once, a few years ago(, and am not yet ready to try again. :-)

@marcozehe @devinprater the important thing to remember is that Linux interfaces, like everything else on Linux, moves forward without care for strategic releases, meaning it often advances at 10 times the rate of the proprietary systems most people are familiar with, that move forward at a snail's pace, maximising profit and minimising costs at every turn. I'd say you might be (pleasantly) surprised how far Linux has come since you last tried it.

@lightweight @devinprater I actually started putting some distro installs into virtual machines on my Windows PC. So far, I like Ubuntu-Mate the most and Ubuntu 20.10 the least. Fedora 33 is somewhere in the middle. Ubuntu-Mate is closest to what I used during my first attempt.

@marcozehe @devinprater I went from Ubuntu with Gnome 2 (which subsequently became MATE) to Linux Mint + Cinnamon to Linux Mint + KDE/Plasma (what I'm using now). Turns out (unexpectedly) that Plasma is more resource-efficient than just about any other desktop (even XFCE!)... surprising given how comprehensive it is. I'd encourage you to give a it a look (you could install the kubuntu-desktop on your MATE instance and try it - you select your desired desktop environment from the login screen.

@lightweight @devinprater I have to take accessibility into account, though. And only Plasma 5.21, released in -- February 2021? -- is slowly becoming accessible. The QT and adjacent infrastructure has long been oversleeping the accessibility stuff, Gnome, through Sun Microsystems, had a very vibrant accessibility team back in the mid 2000s. So, I cannot just install KDE, I have to make sure I install something I can actually use with Orca.

@marcozehe @devinprater fair enough - wasn't sure how Plasma's accessibility was out of the box...

@devinprater @lightweight Perhaps. Right now, my health condition doesn't allow me to focus long enough to actually write this down, but I hope to get better eventually and then maybe I can write about it.

@marcozehe @lightweight Yeah, lots of work means that I can't just sit down and write one of my sprawling essays on the current state of Linux a11y. But I've made smaller, much more informal posts on my Gemlog.

@objectinspace I was actually talking about Linux, not Android. And no, I am not going to try Android right now, either.

@marcozehe @devinprater remember - FOSS can be commercial. I suspect you mean proprietary :) The words we use matter! :)

@lightweight Also, specialized? I mean, in GTK, all you really ave to do is use standard controls, and label stuff with text, or use an accessibility label, on controls, and tell GTK when something changes in the window if needed.

@devinprater I get where you're coming from here, and I mostly agree, but I think there's a bit of questionable logic in your assertion. I'm partially blind, and have a HELL of a time with most FLOSS. Have I mentioned the Ubuntu bug that's kept me from the screen zoom I NEED to use my computer all the way back from 19.10 to the present? :)

But the reason the FLOSS experience is so rough on us disabled folks has IMO nothing to do with communism or anarchy, it's about engineering person hours and percentage of the user-base.

Open source projects, even those funded by successful companies like Canonical have an incredibly small number of engineers assigned to doing Linux desktop work because the VAST percentage of their profits come from the server. So there are a handful of SUPER overworked engineers carrying the entire weight of the desktop Linux using work on their shoulders. It can totally FEEL like they hate us, but they don't. They just can't justify the funding of the things we need to be productive :(

@feoh Okay, we can set aside the companies then. Have you seen the amount of programmers on Mastodon? The people that can whip up a Gemini client in a weekend? If those people even made their clients accessible, and yes, I'm on the Gemini list and have talked about the clients there, and promoted accessibility amongst themselves, then at least Linux packages would improve, even if the big desktop environments and distros with inaccessible installers, like Manjaro, don't.

@devinprater @feoh
Have you considered that the first problem is awareness?

If you aren't blind or have poor vision, then you don't realize what obstacles that brings.
Same if you aren't deaf or impaired hearing. (I don't know the proper word for hearing that's not 100%, but isn't the other end of the spectrum: deaf)

With recent riots in Rotterdam, its Mayor had 'a speech'. When ppl asked for subtitles, many were upset bc they thought it was racist.
They never realized it was for #a11y.

@FreePietje @devinprater Awareness is definitely one issue, especially in the cases that @devinprater cited like application level support. There are a bunch of *NIX applications out there using toolkits that were designed LONG before #a11y was even a THING (I'm looking at you Gtk. Only now in Gtk4 is accessibility being taken into account).

@feoh with all due respect, this attitude is part of the problem. it's not that they "can't justify the funding," it's that accessibility isn't a priority for them. they have the person-hours to put into huge unnecessary redesigns of their GUIs, but when accessibility concerns come up, all of sudden they have nothing but excuses @devinprater

@balrogboogie @feoh @devinprater Agreed. Especially with companies like Red Hat, Canonical, and others who make big dollars from the Linux server business, and claim to also want to get more desktops into governments and such, they need to get behind accessibility and fund it just like Apple and Microsoft and Google do. It is an attitude problem. They are also the ones in the foundations like Gnome etc., so could justify the money if they wanted. And that wanting is the issue.

@marcozehe @balrogboogie @devinprater I agree but IMO it goes beyond wanting. It has to be profitable. If desktop Linux sales, government or otherwise, actually mandated accessibility, then they'd build it.

I suspect this will happen on the desktop as it already has for the web (In the US there are laws that mandate accessibility standards for any government website) but it will take time :(

@feoh @balrogboogie @devinprater Guess it's a bit of a chicken and egg problem. If stuff isn't accessible, it has no chance to even get into government consideration circles. If there is at least some continuous effort, or a good contract that means more dollars, it could maybe work. LiMux failed, among other things, because they had to continue supporting Windows PCs for those blind government officials and employees who couldn't use the Linux desktop thing because of lack of accessibility.

@balrogboogie @devinprater I think you're right, and I suspect your 'continual redesign' comment is mostly aimed at Gnome. I'll admit that I also find it frustrating that the one key accessibility feature I require to use the computer successfully has been broken for YEARS and yet they're doing another full bore redesign in Gnome 40 :(

This is where the engineers on the RedHat and Canonical desktop teams would tell us that engineer hours don't grow on trees, and that they're doing everything they can just pumping the bilges and fixing the bugs they see as critical.

From a totally profit oriented perspective, accessibility is a HUGE area encompassing a massive body of potential change with very little return on investment.

So, I dunno what to do about this other than look forward to a time, maybe after I retire, when I can spend my days understanding the bowels of Gnome and making accessibility actually work for people.


@devinprater There *is* IMO a really good point to be made about the communist/anarchist FLOSS folks and their questionable moral high ground - they act like great engineering is fueled by fairy dust, and people who are Fighting for The Cause. In reality, *especially* for huge complicated projects like desktop environments or productivity applications, the vast lion's share of development happens as a result of companies funding that development through engineering dollars. They don't particularly enjoy hearing that, because they feel that it shouldn't be about the money, and I sympathize with them on that score, I'd love to live in a world with no money, no poverty, and plenty for everyone. But that's not the world we live in :)

I have a tip for you: If your struggles are around Linux on the desktop, give KDE a try.

@feoh Well uh, KDE is actually worse for blind people than Mate, which is what I use, lol. :) It's mainly the programs, like most mail clients, many QT apps, and even a lot of GTK apps. Even stuff like the Gnome desktop is really bad, and they're one of the sponsors of GTK.

@devinprater You're indirectly proving my point. Your Linux experience as a functionally blind person is VERY different from my experience as a visually disabled person with working but low acuity (20/200) vision in one eye. I just need working full screen key chorded zoom, and KDE has offered that for YEARS. Creating distributions and applications that are adaptable to the wide range of disabilities people face is SUPER hard.

@devinprater Apple was, prior to 2006, completely inaccessible. They worked their way toward accessibility eventually, and have pointedly not open sourced any of the related technology to help those who cannot afford to pay for accessibility. I don't think that's terribly beneficent. It sounds profit-driven and selfish.

@klaatu Of course they're not going to open source their tech unless it makes them more money. And yet, the iPhone and iPad are amazingly easy for a blind person to use. In fact, schools now, even schools for the blind, basically have forgotten about the PC in favor of iPads for blind people. Yes, this is the substituting of one dominant tech over another, and yes, if kids grew up using Linux, they *may* be used to that. Hmm, wonder if anyone's done an experiment about that? Apple could, and should, open source VoiceOver and the NS accessibility stack. Maybe then someone, 20 years from now, would add a speech queue to the Mac. :) But also, what did we do about Microsoft Office? Did we just say "well Microsoft is just an awful company and they should just open source Office."? Well yeah, but then Open Office was built, and then LibreOffice took off from its corpse. But Orca still has one main developer, paid by Igalia. We *can* do better!

@devinprater I think there's a distinct difference between FOSS evangelists and communists/anarchists. comparing hobby work to Apple isn't really fair, especially when using that comparison to invalidate socialism - IBM and Canonical are corporations that exploit open source, not champions of it, and features that don't benefit their bottom lines won't and don't get funding from them. Doesn't that make this inaccessibility a symptom of capitalism, and not communism?

@eletious I think there's a good amount of overlap, though, between the two. And, while yes, companies do disregard accestsibility, like the Ubuntu folks, the main Orca developer is a part of Igailia, a company too. And FOSS folks *could* jump in at any time and help out. There are so many programmers in FOSS. I don't think there's a shortage at all. I just have to keep banging my head against the wall trying to get accessibility noticed by developers.

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