Re: [g-a-devel] startup of a11y tools
- From: Willie Walker <William Walker Sun COM>
- To: GNOME Accessiblity Developers Mailing List <gnome-accessibility-devel gnome org>
- Subject: Re: [g-a-devel] startup of a11y tools
- Date: Mon, 05 May 2008 11:55:29 -0400
I agree that things are a little confusing right now. I'm not sure I've
fully understood/appreciated the motivation for why things are the way
they currently are. This might be a good opportunity to clarify,
improve, or both. :-)
I think there are a bunch of different problems to think about:
0) How do I know what accessibility solutions GNOME offers? These
include global system preferences (e.g., AccessX and theming) as well as
assistive technologies (e.g., Orca, GOK, Dasher, MouseTweaks). One
solution is word-of-mouth, which should not be discounted as a
reasonable solution. Another solution is to read the documentation,
which we are improving as part of GOPA. Another is to scour the
"Applications" menu to see what's there (i.e., the same way I'd stumble
across an e-mail client or web browser). Another is to scour the
"Preferences" menu for assistive technology preferences. This all seems
like it could be cleaner.
1) How do I enable theming and/or AccessX features on the login screen?
For theming, I believe the current solution is to offer an optional
menu on the username/password dialog, which is OK. For AccessX, the
current solution is to make sure AccessX is enabled in the X server and
to rely upon the de facto settings and keyboard gestures built in the
XKB server extension. This is marginally OK, and tends to be the
solution we see on public information kiosks (i.e., you don't get your
exact personal preferences, but you should get enough to allow you to
2) How do I launch an assistive technology from the login screen? While
it requires a one-time sysadmin operation to enable accessible login,
the current solution of keyboard and/or mouse gestures for gdm seems to
be reasonable for many users. Doing so requires a priori knowledge of
the keyboard/mouse gestures, but perhaps some automatic 'help' content
generation might be possible? In addition, a dialog as suggested in the
kick off for this thread might help some users as long as they do not
need an assistive technology to access the dialog.
3) How do I 'carry over' accessibility from the login screen to the
desktop session? The current solution is to treat the gdm session and
the desktop session as separate. This presents an issue for users until
they've customized their desktop session for accessibility. That is,
the solution is that there is no carry over and that the user needs to
customize their desktop session for accessibility.
4) Related to #3, there are at least two solutions for autostarting
assistive technologies: general autostart for GNOME and a special
"Accessibility" tab on the preferred applications dialog
(gnome-default-applications-properties). The overlap of these has been
a source of confusion to me. For simplicity, it has seemed to me that
the assistive technology itself should be the one to offer the "start me
on log in" option, and it should do so by just adding itself to the
general autostart list for GNOME.
5) Related to #3, how do I enable a11y for the desktop? The current
solution is to provide the a11y preferences dialog for this. IMO, this
is kind of counterintuitive and is probably something that should
instead be provided by the tool that requires the a11y infrastructure to
be enabled (e.g., Orca, GOK, DogTail, etc.).
6) Related to #2, can I create a customized a11y environment for gdm?
That is, always set the theme by default, always enable SlowKeys with a
timeout of 0.75 seconds, etc. I have no great answer for this since
I've always been accustomed to the login screen being a shared system
resource on a multiuser system. :-(
In any case, I think this is a good discussion. We definitely have room
Brian Cameron wrote:
Imo an approach like the one taken by Jon McCann in the new gdm a11y
dialog (see http://live.gnome.org/GDM/Screenshots ) is much more
straightforward and we should look at doing something similar inside
I agree that the new dialog is a big step forward. It is a good idea
to provide a user-visible dialog where users can select the a11y
programs they wish to run.
However, this interface is lacking because many users with disabilities
simply cannot navigate the GUI to begin with unless the a11y programs
they need are already running. A chicken-and-egg problem.
I know the new GDM does support the ability to always launch (autostart)
additional programs, which can be used to start a11y programs along with
GDM. This perhaps meets the needs of a single-user desktop. However,
this doesn't work well on multi-user desktops or terminal server
settings where some users may need text-to-speech, others may need
magnification, and others might not need any additional a11y programs to
I think this "support a11y on multi-user servers for users who may have
different a11y needs" is an important use case that should be addressed
before a general solution be implemented into the GNOME desktop.
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