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 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 @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 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:

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 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.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

A fun, happy little Mastodon/Hometown instance. Join us by the fire and have awesome discussions about things, stuff and everything in between! Please read our rules before doing that, though; applications without the password that confirms you have done so will be rejected. Admins: Talon and Mayana.