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Thread: About Windows 11's high system requirements. You know, a lot of blind people, who don't have jobs, live on social security and disability money, and who definitely don't have the newest computers, won't get Windows 11. This could have been a great chance for Linux to step up and say loud and proud "Because we support every person's ability to choose their system, and use and learn about computers, we will never force upon users what system they must run. And because we stand proudly with people with disabilities, all blind people are welcome in the world of free and open source software, where they can learn and create just like everyone else."

But no. Gnome, one of the most popular desktops on Linux, is trash with accessibility. KDE is working on it, but that'll take years. Who's ever heard of Mate? And who makes current software for the command line, for users and not other developers?

So now, blind users who cannot upgrade to Windows 11 will probably either stick with Windows 10 indefinitely, save up for a Mac since that'll at least be supported for 7 or so years lol, or buy a new PC for Windows 11. Meanwhile, that laptop from 2015 or so just sits there or gets thrown away or sold. Too bad, right? A perfectly good computer. Ah well. I'll just have to wait until current developers are in their 60's or so, when they start having to lean a little too close to the monitor to see the code, for accessibility in Linux to actually be taken seriously. Because otherwise, they just don't care. And time after time, (Windows XP to Vista to 7 to 8 to 10 to 11), they've had chances to grab a very loyal and somewhat technically-minded user base that could have turned into great coders.

I mean, we've got a lot of great programmers who are blind. On Windows. Yeah some may try Linux, and a few may stick with it *despite* its accessibility bullcrap. But most are on Windows. Two of them have recently created [this Twitter client](masonasons.me/pages/quinter.ph) in Python, I believe. Look at this. Imagine all these programmers, helping out with Linux. But they don't. Why? Because Linux folks don't give a crap about us. So yeah, we stick with the giant evil corpse that, oh my gosh, actually has enough accessibility to where we can be somewhat productive. When you use Linux, be thankful that you have working eyes to see that beautiful KDE interface, or that animation that let's you know that your code has built successfully, or that QT program that Orca will never work with.

Also, it's not enough that Gnome is trash, or KDE is slowly trying, or the command line is mainly for developers. When a user installs Linux and needs assistive technology, like Orca, they can't just enable it and go on their way. They have to check a box in settings to "enable" assistive technologies. That's a huge barrier, and shouldn't exist. But it does. Another roadblock. Why do these exist in a supposed welcoming community? Why do these exist if Linux is open to all? Why? If FOSS is communal, why are blind people, due to the huge barrier of entry, shut out of the FOSS OS? These are hard questions we should be working through. Why does the GUI require assistive technology support to be enabled in order for Orca to work with many apps? Why can't it be enabled by default? Does it slow stuff down? If so, why? And should we have to live with a slower OS because we're blind?

@devinprater You make _very_ good points! It's very important to consider these types of things!

@devinprater
yes. for almost 2 decades free software development has been lagging in accessibility options. i subconsciously assumed physically challenged people do not use computers, mainly because the majority of options now focus on eye candy or keeping sync with windows application behaviors and looks.

free software braille, screenreader and io preipheral options have to break that mold. will it take the actual challenged to do it?

@carl
knoppix is one of those score old things that made great decisions from the getgo
@devinprater

@nergal @devinprater I find android phones unreadable on their tiny screens. You can pinch-zoom, but it doesn't scroll sideways so most of what your trying to see becomes lost. Accent colors and reduction in text contrast that seems to be the rage of ui guys now only makes things even worse.

@tychosoft
Setting "Display size" to "Largest" and "Font size" to "Large" helps for me on a Pixel XL (5.5-inch screen, if I recall correctly) running LineageOS 17.1 (based on Android 10), but there are still websites (like https://packages.debian.org/search?keywords=orca ) that don't resize and wrap nicely on small screens.
@nergal @devinprater

@devinprater
for instance, the most affective project i have seen in recent times is https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasher_(software). the rest? i am unsure the challenged even use them. the main developer of dasher is dead and the urge to work on dasher died with him.

the challenged may have to step up in force to get things going again.

think even enlightenment had been seeking assistance in accessibility coding for years. #enlightenment is a low staffed outfit that make a lean environment. how many people use it?

@devinprater i really can't wait for developers to grow up…

@devinprater I know almost nothing about this issue but reading about it this came to my mind: https://archlinux.org/news/accessible-installation-medium/
I bet there's still a lot of work to be done, but, that's a little something :)

@giarmini0 Yeah, I've used it. But what about when it's installed? What about derivatives like Manjaro or Antergos, whichever one is still active, which doesn't even include Orca in its installer because the installer doesn't work with it? I mean, yeah, Arch's accessible installer is a tiny drop in the ocean of Linux's accessibility problems.

@devinprater
to plug (i am not a dev), there are tools for gemini that allow content to be piped. such as #gmni

@devinprater This post makes me want to check out Elementary OS again to see what they have implemented for the blind. They seem to tout lots of accessibility options so I may need disappointed if I don’t find anything.

@devinprater
...it's the duct-tapers' loop.
David Graeber wrote about it...hold on, sorry, HI! I'm deeply concerned about the development of accessibility technologies, and their implementation in Free and Open Source Softwares.

I took away that Gnome (3? the newest Gnome ?) , KDE...wait...did you ask who's even heard of Mate ? *(all the people who refuse to use Gnome 3...) um..

So yeah, those windows people go home and night, and to sleep, make code commits to FOSS projects. 1&theSAME.(1/2

@abbaxi It may just be me, but ... your reply is a little hard to understand. The part about Microsoft developers coming home and hacking on FOSS gives Linux an even worse name, since that would pretty much mean that Linux is wherethey go when they don't want to have to worry about supporting accessibility and such. And yeah, from what I've read, it seems like most Linux folks haven't heard of Mate. At least, when a list of desktops are given in articles and such, Mate is rarely, if even, mentioned.

@devinprater

Ok.. Linux is a different group than Mate. Mate is a different group than Gnome. KDE is a different group.. an actual group of people with different development aims, than Linux. The kernel is not the userland, and you use the same name, as though there's "one group of people" doing this. There ARE one groups of people making windows. There ARE one group of people making Apple stuff. There are THOUSANDS of unconnected groups working on the FOSS ecosystem. Apples and Apple seeds.

@abbaxi Oh, I see what you mean. Okay, when I refer to Linux, I mean userland. Desktop environments, programs, all that. I'll rarely be referring to the kernel.

@devinprater
sent you a DM :) hey, please, if you know any collection of accessibility issues for any of those userland projects, I'd be happy to troll their project home-pages, and see if the developers can work on those issues you bring up. Would give me a much needed break from arguing with racists online. :)

@abbaxi I'll definitely gather some and sendthem to you. I suspect that Gnome40 doesn't have many yet, but KDE seems a lot more promising ofa DE, maybe they keep track of them. And I've been asked to write a document that should unify UI expectations and rules for how a blind person would use a GUI. I'm definitely not an expert on UI design, but I’ll do my best if it helps FOSS

@devinprater
thanks :D I would love to help get these userland projects to develop in the right direction.

@abbaxi I would too. It's just really hard when there's just like a few of us, and the few other blind Arch Linux users are just... They isolate themselves into anIRC server and have given up trying to get userland developers to listen.

@devinprater :D I DO NOT GIVE UP :D

also, BSD developers might be more amenable to listening.

BSD is designed. Linux is grown.
https://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/rants/bsd4linux/01

@devinprater
can you send me the link for the blind arch linux users IRC ?

@abbaxi Oh it's not just for Arch users, I just mean most blind Linux folks use Arch. It's at irc.linux-a11y.org

@devinprater Setup should START with a screen reader! And there shoudl eb an option to turn it OFF and not ON.

@foreverxml @devinprater
I'm play devils advocate here... have you tried suggesting that to the gnome people? I've been able to see all my life and these problems might seem obvious to someone but definitely not to me.

I would say that Linux has the ability to receive contribs from a far larger audience (and hence a larger audience of visually impaired people), but we need these people to be willing to contribute, not act all pissed on some random social.

@foreverxml @devinprater
I have to partially reconsider my position here. I still think that opening an issue was the right move but:
1 - one person in the issue comments tried to say that having the screen reader on by default "would be awkward", despite you explaining the reasoning behind it. This is like saying that you don't want ramps next to stairs because you might feel awkward walking at an angle.
2- the issue was marked duplicate of a 2yo issue.

@foreverxml Definitely. Or at least a spoken message That a screen reader can be turned on, and a keyboard command given. But no, on all mainstream distros, a blind user must figure out from somewhere that Super+Alt+S or Super+Alt+O turns on Orca, if Orca is even in the installer. If the installer is even accessible.

@devinprater
I think, you are right. And there is something you can do about it: provide a checklist on barrier-free design of UI. Most devs, who don't need assistive support, don't have a clue what this could be. They just don't know about it, because it's beyond their perception.
Just TELL them, what to do!

@wauz @devinprater

One of the things Microsoft is good at is funding UI research to see how people use computers and to meet national procurment laws they put the hard work into accessibility.

I watched https://emacsconf.org/2019/talks/08/ as an idea to try and understand how to use a computer without vision, but it could also help to have examples of use.

Someone once posted a recording a of screen reader going through an emojii heavy post, to make it very clear how annoying it is.

@alienghic @wauz Okay. Since a few people have asked about it, during my two week vacation, I'll work on documenting how blind people use computers. It'll be anopen Github... Sourcehut? Org-mode document because Emacs, and videos may be made in the future.

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz as early as 2001 there was a complete linux distro for the blind that booted with voice support and ran early gnome with orca by default. It was sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) when Janina Sajka was their CTO. Several of their major donors, including Microsoft, objected, and demanded they not only stop projects, but fire her and others or would stop donating. So they did.

@tychosoft @alienghic @wauz Oh... Oh my. I didn't know that bit of history. Where can I read about this?

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz perhaps rednote, if it is still around. The AFB also had built a portable daisy talking book portable reader using linux, which also angered AFB donors.

@tychosoft @wauz @alienghic Oh if you get a chance, check out the Braille Plus. Nthe Braille Plus 18, but the original. It was a beautiful, small PDA for the blind, running, I believe, Alpine Linux with apps built by APH, American Printinghouse for the Blind. That was about the best assistive technology ever made. Now we're stuck with stupid Android toys that can't even show basic text formatting in braille, like older devices could.

@devinprater @tychosoft @wauz

That's an interesting device, and that keyboard supports a lot of characters with very few buttons.

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz Furthermore, sun was the major sponsor for assistive tech development for a long time, including the atk framework used in gnome. When sun was bought by oracle, they terminated their work on it.

@tychosoft @devinprater @alienghic @wauz@muenchen.social

not everyone is bowing to that bullying pressure. Thanks for that IRC link, I'll follow up on it. Here's a cool story about a state government switching, and I think that since the city of Munich gets to provide accessibility services to people, and they've all switched away from Microsoft, there might be something larger commanding development (an entire city in this case) towards a better designed user land.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/linux-not-windows-why-munich-is-shifting-back-from-microsoft-to-open-source-again/

@tychosoft @alienghic @abbaxi Oh yes, I've read about that. Hopefully, if there's a blind person working in the city government, developers there will help out and push results upstream.

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz every year in the early 2000's Janina would come to speak at the Libre Software Meeting in France and run a blind workshop, as well as show of the distro they sponsored, and other projects like the linux portable daisy reader. That's why I know about it, as I was presenting Bayonne. I did a joint presentation with her one year.

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz out of that, and my trip to Macedonia, came the GNU Alexandria project, which adapted GNU Bayonne to be a daisy book provider of e-government services for the blind. The AFB sponsored a pilot project of that funded by the US SSA, to read ssa documents over the phone to blind citizens. This project too was cancelled because of said AFB donors. @bob

@wauz @tychosoft @alienghic @bob You know, donors and sponsors sure have a lot of power. Like, theNFB conference is sponsored by Microsoft and Google. Google for heaven's sake! Android isn't exactly as bad as Gnome, but it's not nearly as great as iOS. And Microsoft does a bit more than Google, but a lot of people that go to the NFB conference won't even be able to run Windows 11.

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz @bob in 2010 I shared a room when speaking at Libra Planet at Harvard, with the Gnome accessibility speaker, and his seeing eye dog. Of course he was defunded as part of the oracle purchase of sun.

@tychosoft @wauz @alienghic Ugh was literally everything better in the early 2000s? Soundcards had great MIDI chips and 3D sound was invisual basic or something, all this FOSS assistive technology... And then the big companies stepped in.

@devinprater @wauz @alienghic this clearly was much better along back then. So much had been lost.

@devinprater @wauz @alienghic its a good question. The blind linux community of that time seems to have faded away, or at least its been a decade since I had heard from anyone involved in that.

@tychosoft
Assistive technology is benefit to all users, not only blind ones. Speech-control is hot!
@devinprater @alienghic

@tychosoft @wauz @alienghic Oh I never meant to imply that it was only useful for blind people. And yeah, Apple always seems to make it look cool lol. Like Assistive Touch on the Watch.

@wauz @devinprater @alienghic indeed, this is very true, and touches upon many areas. The GNOME accessibility guy, when they had him, discussed varous kinds of disabilities and how we can use tech to better accomidate, visual disorders and websites, hearing loss, etc...

@tychosoft
We need to get ir back! Damn shame!
This is something that should be told to the whole world and all orgs.
Maybe we can force those companies to give compensation, or at least there well be good-willing donators.
This is not an US issue, it's a world issue!
@devinprater @alienghic

@wauz @devinprater @alienghic many of the AFB sponsored projects were in Europe. So yes, a lot of people lost support when this was shut down.

@devinprater @alienghic @wauz thinking back, it might have been at the time also most functional when booting in pure console mode, which is also particularly useful for blind users and something gui only platforms simply cannot offer such users.

@tychosoft
The GUI concept promised, that you can use a computer without knowledge. Well, you can, at the level someone can use a light switch.
I know a person, who needed literally years to see, that saving all letters as "Dokument1" is not useful...
@devinprater @alienghic

@tychosoft @devinprater @alienghic
When I think back, the first computers I used (Apple II, C64), I actually could use "headless", because you had to know all basic commands by heart. Then, with win3, there was a kind of GUI, but actually it wasn't that, what GUI now is. The description desktop fit, bc it was just a surface, where you could put your items - 1/3

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