Re: An Open Letter to Oracle on the Topic Of Accessibility

Hi.  In my view, Gnome accessibility will never succeed.  It will sometimes get close, but will
never make it all the way.
I came to this conclusion after using Gnome versions from2.2 through 2.28.  
I've seen several occasions
where a change in Gnome broke accessibility.  Combine that with the fact apps aren't required to be accessible before being included in Gnome,
and you have a recipe for failure.

Lately, I've started to lump accessibility approaches into 2 groups: the Micro soft approach and the Apple approach.
In the Apple approach, apps are required to be accessible before being included in the operating system.  
This lets the screen reader developers concentrate on improving the screen reader.

In the Micro soft approach, there is a commitnemt to accessibility statement from the company and hooks in the system
to make accessibility possible, but no requirement.  This model allows third party companies to make lots of money developing screen readers.
Since the accessibility isn't required, there will always be a reason for users to pay for the screen reader upgrade no matter the cost.

Although this isn't exactly what is happening in Gnome, Gnome is mostly following the Micro soft approach.
In Gnome, the screen reader developers are forced to try to make other apps accessible after the fact as well as try to fix bugs and add features to Orca.
Since it's hard to make an app accessible after the design phase, this takes lots of additional work.

I'm not sure I've made my point, but I'll send this and see the result.  I've tried to keep this nice and helpful when
what I really want is to destroy the monitor of everyone on the Gnome board.  If you had to
use the Gnome I amn forced to use, you wouldn't put up with it for a second.
This mail was written on a Linux box in the text console.  Gnome 2.28 just isn't worth the frustration to try posting it under Gnome.


On Sun, Feb 07, 2010 at 03:19:23PM -0500, Joanmarie Diggs wrote:
> Hi all.
> I sure thought I CC'ed this list on something I sent to the Orca list.
> Apparently I did not. Sorry! Below is the original message.
> Any way this could get pointed to on and any
> similar "planets"?
> --joanie
> =====================
> Hey guys.
> For what it's worth, I just wrote a blog entry on Oracle's decision. "An
> Open Letter to Oracle on the Topic Of Accessibility" can be found at:
> For the sake of convenience, here is the text of that entry:
> Dear Oracle:
> You don't know me, so please permit me a brief introduction: I'm Joanie.
> By day, I'm an assistive technology specialist working with individuals
> who are blind or visually impaired. By night, weekend, and holiday for
> almost four years now, I've been a GNOME community contributor working
> primarily on the Orca screen reader, a project led by Sun's
> Accessibility Program Office.
> Working with the engineers at Sun, both inside and outside of the APO,
> has been an honor for a variety of reasons, not least of which is our
> shared common belief: Access isn't a privilege; it's a right. Towards
> that end, Sun Microsystems strived to ensure that ALL users have access
> to software and information. 
> Does Oracle plan to do the same?
> Sun Microsystems believed that these things shouldn't be denied to those
> who aren't employed, or who don't live in the "right" country, or who
> don't speak the "right" language, or who cannot afford to purchase
> thousands of dollars' worth of access technology. 
> What does Oracle believe?
> Through its significant, ongoing contributions to the GNOME desktop, Sun
> Microsystems has made computer access possible for many individuals with
> disabilities, from all walks of life, all over the world.
> Will Oracle embrace the opportunity to continue this important work?
> My assumption was yes. In fact, I was feeling quite hopeful. After all,
> the past few years have been hard on Sun. But with Larry Ellison's
> promise of increased investment in the Sun brand, and Oracle's strong
> commitment to accessibility, things would finally be turning around: If
> one under-funded APO could accomplish everything that it has, what could
> the two combined and properly-funded APOs achieve? At the very least
> we'd be able to finally get a handle on all of the accessibility
> challenges facing GNOME 3.
> I was wrong. :-(
> Last week, Oracle laid off two more members of Sun's already-decimated
> APO. One of those let go happened to be both the Orca project lead and
> the GNOME Accessibility project lead, Willie Walker. I truly hope this
> was an oversight on Oracle's part, and one that will be rectified very
> soon. Because if it is not, and if no other company steps forward to
> continue this work, the accessibility of the GNOME desktop will become
> the open source equivalent of an unfunded mandate, doomed ultimately to
> fail.
> Oracle's decision threatens to leave many individuals with disabilities
> around the world without access to a modern desktop environment. I find
> that tragic.
> _______________________________________________
> gnome-accessibility-list mailing list
> gnome-accessibility-list gnome org

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