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?

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

I'm hugely interested in working on a blind-accessible FOSS desktop for my own slightly-odd reason that I'd like to brainstorm things while walking without looking at my phone.

the awful thing is.
I could totally be put to work fixing accessibility by listening to real disabled people.
but I can't because I don't have an income and everybody who can help me search for jobs is oriented at the wasteful process of applying to tons of random jobs and 'climbing the ladder'.

1/

@devinprater

I waste all my time on these appointments, job applications, trainings, temporary jobs, etc,
(not to mention therapy because none of this ever feels worth it),
then I go home and waste more time on random hobby projects because I need a personally fulfilling goal to have anything to feel good about.

I don't really want to spend my time this way.

all it takes to tear me away from personal things to socially useful things is a living income.

2/

@devinprater

but it's not simply nobody giving a shit about accessibility,
it's nobody creating a place in society for all the programmers who would literally go fix it.

thus you find me rambling a lot about socialism and the idea of "better jobs".

3/

@devinprater

things like comradery.co look promising as a structure where new jobs could be created based on a real need and sort of assemble themselves together into bigger teams as appropriate

but that's not quite here yet.

4/

@devinprater

doesn't it strike anyone as weird that we're all bike-shedding about how somebody "could" fix problems "someday" instead of reporting directly over to an organisation that helps everyone coordinate with each other on how to make it actually happen?

5/5

saying "disabled people could go fix it" accomplishes just as little as saying "GNOME could go fix it".

who will actually fix the problem and when? who's fixing the things that prevent people from fixing it? who's fixing the things behind those?

@Valenoern What organization would that be? The GNU? FSF? Gnu's accessibility statement is like from 2005, so I get the sense that they don't care much about that.

@devinprater @Valenoern GNOME has not been part of GNU for many years.

@Valenoern @devinprater I simply wanted to clarify the actual history, since I did not think it was known, and I saw at least some of it happen first hand.

@Valenoern So, Igailia or however you spell it wouldn't hire you? that's the organization that hires the only Orca screen reader developer. Orca is the only GUI (mainly GTK) screen reader for Linux. But there's got to be something we can do.

@Valenoern @devinprater this touches upon what happened happened to the original work on linux for the blind after the AFB's corporate sponsers killed it. As many working on it were themselves blind, that was for many the first and last time they were able to be productive and funded to do something useful. But how dare they interfere with the profit-making needs of private already wealthy American companies like Microsoft...

@devinprater I'm considering making an "are-we-accessible-yet.tld" website, like the ones Mozilla made for various web and Rust related things, but:
-i don't have moniez for another domain name
...that's basically it actually. I should probably do it, unless it already exists.

@devinprater It Depends (TM), and I'm told they trick you with a cheap first year but then each yearly renewal costs way more. So I don't wanna jump head first into buying another domain, but I can host it on a subdomain of blobpat.space.
But most of the work would be to figure out how the site should work.
I was thinking of using a git repo hosted on Sourcehut or something (no Github or main Gitlab, for Reasons.) and people just send a pull request or patch to update it.

@csepp Yeah, nothing wrong with hosting stuff on a subdomain.

@devinprater Yup.

So, for the site, I'm thinking something like:
main page is a list of apps with an accessibility status that answers the question "is X accessible yet?", just a simple yes/unknown/no/etc. And if you click one of them you see the more detailed explanation for the rating, links to open issues, etc.

So really it's just a static site I guess.

With maybe a teensy bit of JS for sorting on the main page?

@devinprater

I hear your frustration, and I agree that we should aspire and focus on accessibility as a first class objective.

Now the question becomes how to do that with a largely volunteer community and without a source of funding that will offset the cost of time/effort.

Are there financial resources to support such efforts, such as government grants?

There should be, and hopefully are, which could be given to appropriate orgs to support the work.

@devinprater I mean it’d help if there were an organized company that made the entire stack and made sure it worked consistently and was supported with funding by the users and/or other funding sources sufficiently to actually produce the things you’re asking for.

@brion I mean, I'd donate like $20 or $30 per month for that.

@devinprater unfortunately it has to be not just you but a bunch of other people. And then there needs to be someone you can give it to in an organized way that makes sure effort is spent on consistent interoperable software that serves all users. There is no central place to send it, there is no coordination, and there is no project management.

@devinprater you can't demand that "Linux" do it because "Linux" is not a cohesive group with any organized management or funding or method of coordinating effort

@brion Yeah, true. When I say Linux, I mean userland stuff, like desktop environments and applications, and UI toolkits. And maybe it's too far gone to save.

@devinprater well it’s fundamentally been limited since the beginning. Limited resources, very little income, multiple groups companies and individuals pulling in different directions.

I just don’t believe what you want can be created without consistent funding and centralized product and project management, and the diverse array of distros and foundations for user land (especially GUI) make basically no income with which to spend on important things that don’t affect everyone.

@devinprater not saying it’s great. Fundamentally it’s awful. But without fixing economics, what’s your solution?

@devinprater FOSS is successful mainly where it’s useful to companies that have a money-making product that uses it, so they can assign developers to the tasks that are important to them.

Unless there’s a company that’s getting funding specifically to work on accessibility throughout the entire stack, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s gonna be a patchwork hell forever.

@devinprater and that sounds like a big problem, because the audience of people who will pay specifically for accessibility features is very small.

Thus you need an economy of scale where the company has enough income to spend disproportionate amounts of money (income-wise) on important things like accessibility that are essential and important to some users, but not to most.

@devinprater If you don’t have that, then no amount of hoping for volunteer patches will solve all the problems.

@devinprater So if you want to see it, you need to at least support companies that are trying to make a serious go of desktop Linux and give them money for their computers or operating systems.

And then you have to hope that they grow, because right now they’re tiny.

@devinprater You simply won’t get what you ask for right now. It doesn’t exist, and it can’t exist without a massive change in how much money is flowing into paying people to buy food and pay rent/mortgage so they can work on this specifically.

@brion True. That's where again I see endeavours like @elementary popping up, and the willingness of the FLOSS community to support these as a benchmark to whether people want to support real long-term sustainable change.
@devinprater

@devinprater @brion

I believe Trisquel still has Orca enabled by default upon installation. I remember when I first installed it I had a big fright from suddenly hearing it without a notice. But then I thought, "Sure, that's what you need to do in order to try and include everyone".

@brion @devinprater Though GNOME & KDE covers most of the relevant stack components!

Then there's all the apps...

@alcinnz @brion @devinprater Well almost all the non-game graphical applications are either GTK or Qt these days, it's getting really rare to see something like raw X/wayland or FLTK.

(I'm excluding games because it's an entirely different kind of process to render them accessible and games are quite done by different kind of people)

And if you want an common umbrella for ~desktop accessibility, I think XDG aka freedesktop.org would be it but well Linux as a gloss term is fine.

@lanodan @devinprater @brion And I would count any apps using raw X, Wayland, or FLTK as a lost cause. Which is not to denigrate X or Wayland, they're important stack components!

Just saying if you're drawing the UI yourself you're probably not exporting anything for Orca to read! And probably are getting so much more wrong too!

@lanodan @devinprater @brion I was just listening to Cassidy repeating "Don't do more than you have to" (above GTK) for the sake of accessibility.

The previous speaker had a great accessible (low vision) experience on elementary OS compared to other free desktops he used in the past. Still had gripes to share.

@lanodan @devinprater @alcinnz what's the status on electron apps, which is to say everything cross platform except a few legacy apps and some Linux-only stuff?

Ideally Chromium already provides the integration with ARIA in the HTML5 stack via GTK but I really don't know how well it works.

@brion @lanodan @devinprater All I can say is that WebKitGTK works, and there's a couple of Electron alternatives which uses that.

@brion @lanodan @devinprater No, those Electron alternatives are not seriously used.

Though WebKitGTK does get decent usage, even if most switch to Firefox or Chrome.

@brion @devinprater @alcinnz I think you should give it a try to get an idea, maybe there is recording of the experience of blind/low-vision on their computers, I haven't tried that.

I would say that website support for accessibility is roughly a bit better than text-browser/netsurf support.

GTK/Qt and the web is accessible and quite portable by default but people can't help but add bell&whistles that ultimately prevent it during development.

On Linux/BSD you can install Orca, on Windows there is NVDA, on MacOS/iOS and Google Android it should be just activating it.
And then I would put the brightness/contrast way low or even outright turn the screen off/away.

btw one thing you should mind is that while there is a need for blind and low-vision accessibility there is also a need for hearing and motion accessibility.

@lanodan @devinprater @brion There's a recording within this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Px0eTRjZiE

elementary will be splitting these into videos soon.

@alcinnz @devinprater @brion Seems like a really nice feedback so far, starts at about 46 minutes.

@brion @devinprater

I used to think this was a problem, but in actuality it's both the source of problem and solutions.

I remember the world pre-Freedesktop.org and it was not fun. Desktop interoperability was terrible or non-existent.

As for paying for improvements, I doubt any project would turn away developers who were working on or dedicated to accessibility, but it's a Hard problem that touches many systems.

Nonethless such systems do exist. Vinux existed, though it seems defunct now.

@brion @devinprater

Many of the features you're talking about don't need the GUI to activate, they're simply Freedesktop configurable, ie they can be configured from the command line or a script, so they're easy to add.

I thought the GTK stack was relatively good for the blind, though I'm not the end consumer for it.

The GNOME foundation is approachable, though.

There are apps for the ecosystem- Emacspeak is often cited.

I'm not sure what it is as a community you'd want.

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