frustrated with the state of linux accessibility

kendell clark coffeekingms at
Wed Mar 18 00:44:42 UTC 2015

Hash: SHA512

hi all
I'll warn you all now before I start, this is going to be a bit of a
rant. If you don't have the time to read this, please skip. Before I
rant, I want to make this crystal clear that I am *not* aiming this at
fedora. You guys have been incredibly helpful and you seem to really
care about accessibility. <Beginning of rant>
I am, to put it bluntly, completely exasperated with the state of
linux accessibility, and the amount of work that seems to be needed
just to keep accessibility functional, let alone surpassing that of
other operating systems. I switched to linux over 3 years ago, and was
immediately impressed. Within five minutes, I'd wiped off windows and
replaced it with linux. Orca immediately came up talking, I could
install independently, all the apps were accessible, etc. I quickly
ran into the same wall I've been trying to tear down these past 3
years though. When an app fails to be accessible, the fun begins.
First, I'm directed to contact the app developer, usually via mailing
list or irc channel, so I do so. Hi, I'm blind, and I want to use
application x. Unfortunately it has accessibility issues with orca. It
won't "whatever is wrong with the app". Is there anything I can do to
help you fix it? I wait for a response. "go away you blind idiot, I
don't have time to fix accessibility issues. Use windows, it just
works". That's not the response most of the times but it boils down to
this. The response is usually something like "Unfortunately no one on
our team knows about accessibility. Accessibility in linux is
incredibly difficult. Maybe you could try our app in windows, it'll
probably work there." This, to put it bluntly, does not solve my
issue. I'm using linux because I do not want windows, and being told
to go back there just frustrates me. Dejected, I log off of the irc
channel and go to the orca list. Hi. Does anyone have experience with
application X? I'm trying to use it with orca version "orca version"
and it "whatever's wrong with the app. "Can anyone help with a
workaround, or can I provide any info to help?" I get a response back
from joanie, who's the orca maintainer. Provide me with a debug file.
Ok, fine, I do that. SHe looks at it, eventually. SHe either fixes it
in orca, which she's really good at by the way or ... "well I can't
fix this. It's a bug in such and such. You'll have to file a bug." Ok,
so I go find their bugzilla page, and file a bug. If it's a framework,
such as at-spi, I don't even bother filing a bug because I don't know
enough to gather debug info at-spi needs, so I'd just be complaining
"this doesn't work" which won't help anyone. My main problem is this.
I'm tired of being overlooked. I do what I'm supposed to in an open
source project to get bugs fixed. I file a bug. I go on mailing lists
and send emails describing issues I'm having. And the only responses I
tend to get are, "No one knows anything, sorry." "accessibility is
complicated, use windows." "We're too understaffed and we'll get
around to it eventually." What am I doing wrong? You sighted people
have no idea how lucky you have it. You can pick up any product off
the shelf and immediately use it. We have to have so many
prerequisites to be in place before we can even think of using
something, most of the time aren't in place, so we can't use it. Why?
Why is accessibility such an uphill battle. Why do I file bugs, only
to have them sit for months, or years before they're fixed, if they're
fixed at all? All I want is to be equal with the people who don't need
a screen reader to use their computer. If I file a bug, it gets fixed.
I don't want special treatment. I just want accessibility to work, and
to keep working. It so often does not happen. Accessibility gets
broken far too easily, no one knows what broke it, and it stays
broken. So many desktops I cannot use. Kde, xfce, lxde, lxqt,
cinnamon. So many applications I cannot use. Chrome/chromium,
applications written for x, rather than using a gui toolkit like gtk
or qt, applications that use something other than gtk or qt for their
toolkit.  I've used alternative platforms, like windows, It *is* not
perfect. It has it's own issues. But the desktop, most of it at least,
works, and works well. No unlabeled controlls, no duplicate controlls,
etc. Applications are another story altogether. Gnome has trouble even
keeping their own login manager accessible, to say nothing of other
dm's, kdm, lightdm, etc. What am I doing wrong? I want linux to be a
no brainer for blind people all over the world to use. Most of them
are downright spoiled and hostile to having to put forth any kind of
effort, so that cannot happen until and unless accessibility is taken
as seriously as user interface design and marketing. Please help me
understand. Am I so insignificant that developers just can't be
bothered helping a blind person use their app, when they can be lazy
and a thousand, a million sighted people can, so what's the point for
a few blind people? Is that it? I cannot even turn to blind agencies
to help me, as distasteful as that sounds to me, because the vast
majority of them seem to have been bought off by microsoft or apple.
I'm so tired of the "use windows, it just works. Linux'll never get
anywhere." or the , "Just use mac, it's all I need, and it's
completely accessible." from other blind people when I try to get
interest in fixing linux accessibility issues. I'm a nice person, up
to a point. I'm willing to work with developers who are willing to fix
their accessibility issues. But I'm not as patient as I once was. Too
many times I've been promised accessibility fixes, only to get
nothing. The excuses don't matter if you don't keep your word. It
comes to a point when I just want to log onto an irc channel and yell,
"ok, there's yet another accessible issue. Someone get on this
immediately and fix it or  I'll ..." I don't, because that's going to
get me nowhere, as well as banned. But I'm tired of running in
circles. It's not our problem, go bug these people, it's their toolkit
that's keeping orca from reading the app. It's so complex I have only
the vaguest understanding of how the tools fit together in order for
orca to read my screen. <end of rant> Ok, that felt good. I've talked
long enough, so I'll end this. Please don't ban me, like I said in the
beginning this is not fedora's fault. You people have shown that you
care about accessibility, and I've seen proof in your tools. They're
all accessible. This rant is *not* directed at you. But linux
accessibility needs a kick in the pants. It needs a big company with
lots of money behind it, rather than a handful of developers fixing
the issues, in their spair time. I don't know how many blind linux
users their are but reguardless of the number, they deserve the same
experience a sighted user gets when they turn on their computer. I
will do whatever it takes to fix this, if it takes dedicating the rest
of my life to this. I don't have much money to spair, but I can
probably donate some, if money is needed. I picked fedora because it's
backed by  redhat, and because the community is caring and helpful. I
need help. What do you long time and sighted linux users think can be
done about this? I'm tired of the disinterest from developers, the
assumption that surely there's another app that I can use, so they
don't have to bother fixing accessibility issues. Surely I can switch
to another platform, usually windows, because linux isn't cut out for
what I want to use it for. That's clearly false, time and time again
with effort it can quickly surpass other platforms. But so often that
effort isn't even started. Or started and abandoned. Google won't even
make chrome accessible using pre existing accessibility frameworks.
At-spi on linux, something else on windows I forget the name. Instead
they develop their own, completely nonstandard and possibly closed
source implementation, and expect you to use that if you want to use
their browser. Duplication of effort is not the answer. I personally
think, and I could be completely wrong, but I think there needs to be
an accessibility standard framework that applications adhere to. This
is already here, in terms of at-spi2. This needs to be baked into the
display server itself, so that applications either cannot, or cannot
easily render their applications inaccessible. Otherwise we're going
to have the same situation we're struggling with today. Accessibility
problem, file bug, wait. It may or may not get fixed. This *needs* to
get fixed and stay fixed. I want to help that happen, not whine and
complain. I realize I've just done that, but this will be the only
email of this kind you'll get from me. I just had to get it out there
for people who have moer experience with linux than I do to chew on.
Please don't ban me, I want to help fedora, and by extension all linux
distros get better in terms of accessibility.
Thanks for reading
Kendell clark
Sent from fedora GNU/Linux version 21
Version: GnuPG v1


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