Re: [g-a-devel] GNOME Launches Campaign for Accessibility


On 01/ 6/12 09:55 AM, Christian Hofstader wrote:
"Sometimes accessibility lags behind…" is an accurate  statement. My
question is why Gnome Foundation would consider a11y issues to have a
priority lower than any other feature of the software. By permitting
a11y to "lag behind" other features, it is effectively put on the
back burner and will require  a11y hackers to try to retrofit  access
in a most inconvenient manners.

The GNOME Foundation considers a11y to have a high priority, and we
work hard to focus attention in areas of a11y.  The GNOME community
is a volunteer community.  While The GNOME Foundation has a certain
amount of influence, ultimately work gets done because people like you
do the work.  Thanks, by the way, since I know that you do a lot

GNOME 3 involved a lot of change to the GNOME UI, as GNOME is moving
towards a more OpenGL and clutter based design.  This is really a step
forward for a11y since many features (like magnification and
on-screen-keyboards) benefit from OpenGL features.  GNOME 3 was
released before a11y was fully working partly because there is still
significant effort involved with the GNOME 3 accessibility transition:

- Making clutter and GNOME Shell accessible.
- Converting a11y infrastructure from using CORBA to D-Bus and
  engaging/cooperating more with KDE to make a11y work.
- Making WebKit accessible since many GNOME features would use it.

Considering the amount of work required to make GNOME 3 a11y happen,
I think we should not be too hard on ourselves.  We are making good
progress.  It will likely take some time to get a good focus back on
GTK+ a11y issues while we are finishing all this work.

As you say, it would be better to make stronger release team a11y
requirements.  I think it would be easier to define such requirements
once accessibility is working reasonably in GNOME 3.  We have made a
lot of progress already, so hopefully this will not be so far in the

Also, allowing a11y to lag makes my job really hard. I'm trying to
convince all sorts of groups to use free software and that free
software a11y is good enough to use full time. I'm also trying to
convince people that the free software community cares about a11y
but the consumers see little evidence to this fact.

GNOME 2 has very good a11y support, and is what is delivered by most
popular and enterprise distros currently.  Most of the serious issues
the a11y team are dealing with is in the GNOME 3 code.  Do these
consumers really insist on using GNOME 3 before it is ready, or are
there specific GNOME 2 a11y issues that are causing particular concern?

Joanie, the Vinux gang, Luke, Mike, etc. are amazing individuals who
make incredible contributions. Alas, depending on a few talented and
incredibly dedicated hackers for a11y, features we must have to be
used in US Federal and a bunch of state government jobs, is severely

Volunteers have always been the cornerstone of the free software
community.  People who volunteer their time in the service of others
are, as you say, amazing individuals.

I cannot go to someone trying to make a purchasing
decision and convince them that the a11y problems will be fixed
as they will ask, "by whom?" and I'll be without an answer.

The GNOME community has an award winning track record of supporting
accessibility in a free software environment.  There are plenty of
consulting firms that regularly work on GNOME that would likely be
delighted to provide support that is needed.  We have a community of
users who do find GNOME a usable and accessible, if not perfect,
experience.  What more is needed?

Until a11y bugs are considered showstoppers, my ability to do too much
in the "sales" side of GNU Accessibility is hampered. Worse, though,
is that many people may lose jobs or be unable to fully participate in
the free exchange of ideas via electronic methods - a civil rightthese days.

What specific showstopper bugs are we talking about?  There are only 3
blocker bugs with keyword "accessibility" currently.[1]  I notice there
are only 21 critical bugs.[2]  That does not seem so insurmountable.

Not all a11y bugs should be show stoppers, and they need to be
prioritized along with all the other show stoppers.  Accessibility is
a job that is never done.  There is always more work that can be done
to make electronic devices more easily accessible to a wider range of

Let's keep up the good work!




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