Re: 2.6 proposed module: dasher

Hi Murray, Bill,

If the GNOME accessibility team say that they need it, and that they plan to integrate it into the whole set of accessibilty tools, then the
release-team is likely to just say "OK, you're the experts". However,
>> as a sanity check, I would like to know that somebody is actually
getting some benefit from it already, so it's not just a theoretical
>> thing.

I don't disagree with anything Bill writes (below), but want to add a different perspective for consideration.

The GNOME integration may well be strong enough by the time 2.6 ships, but I think there are still some significant issues to work out to make that more useful. As a standalone application for entering text via an alternate interface for people with severe physical disabilities, it is *very* interesting and the performance numbers from their studies are quite remarkable. As an assistive technology that allows a someone with a severe physical disability to completely control their desktop, I think it has a good ways to go.

So - I have absolutely no objection to it being included with GNOME, and I can't think of a better place for it to live in the default menu structure other than in "Accessibility", but I personally would like to see much more functionality in the roadmap and active development before I would consider it a real alternate user interface for the desktop. Until a user can navigate dialog boxes and toolbars and the like with Dasher, they will be unable to effectively use an application (navigating menus alone isn't enough).

Well, the project has a long history - according to the homepage since 1997. But dasher+GNOME open up lots of new possibilities for the
technology, and the Dasher team has actively been pursuing better GNOME
integration - in part as I understand it because GNOME makes it possible
for Dasher to do more than other platforms.

Unlike most assistive technologies, it works well with complex languages like Japanese (GOK can theoretically work with Japanese but for some
users  Dasher would be a much better option), and it and its documentation
are available in  multiple languages already.  So it comes to GNOME
as a well-formed, mature project with lots of translations and
capabilities already.

In terms of how it fits into our overall accessibility 'toolbox', it fills an important gap. It also has potential uses for non-disabled users. I think its areas of overlap with GOK are small, and it's distinctive enough in the way that it works that I wouldn't worry about redundancy. Unless there's something about its footprint (in the packages) that I don't realize, I don't see why it doesn't merit inclusion as one of our accessibility tools.


Peter Korn
Sun Accessibility team

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