frustrated with the state of linux accessibility

kendell clark coffeekingms at
Wed Mar 18 06:53:54 UTC 2015

Hash: SHA512

Well, I've successfully gotten another blind user to switch over from
windows to fedora, so all is good now. STill want advice from sighted
users for how to get accessibility bugs fixed without causing
headaches, but I'm much better now
Kendell clark
Sent from Fedora GNU/Linux

kendell clark wrote:
> 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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