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

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

cdh: How can we say that a11y is working "reasonably" if we haven't a set of requirements that define what is "reasonable" first? 

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?

cdh: The Gnome a11y issues for people with vision impairment in the 2.xx releases are many, especially when compared to what users enjoy with JAWS or VoiceOver. These issues, though, are not all based in Gnome itself, rather, across the ecosystem of OS, UI, app, etc. The Gnome Accessibility API has most of the power necessary but too few programs fully implement it. 


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?

cdh: Spend a day with a JAWS power user and then spend one with an Orca user. The latter can do a lot of really good stuff but the former can do so much more and do so more efficiently.


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.

cdh: What are the dates these bugs were reported as critical or blocker? How long have they sat unattended?

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

cdh: Sure, there will always be room for improvement but, again, compared to a Windows user with JAWS, WE, SA, NVDA, etc. a Gnome user has far fewer options and, in some really important application categories, they have nothing even remotely fully featured (compare using MS Excel with JAWS to Orca with the LibreOffice spreadsheet as a quick example of what one can and cannot do).

cdh: Lastly, I cannot tell a purchasing agent that they need to hire a contractor to hack a system for a11y when they can already get what they want from Windows or Macintosh without pricey consultants involved. Budgets are being cut and such purchasing professionals have no special interest in free software.

cdh: I don't mean to sound so negative but as government requirements for a11y increase globally, we need to ensure that free operating environments can compete on a11y with our proprietary cousins. In terms of price/performance, Macintosh currently offers the most comprehensive solution; if price is no object, Windows can be made terrific but a user who needs real power tools in office apps and a number of other areas are left behind in gnome.

cdh: I realize these are not the fault of the Gnome Foundation but they are really big problems for my constituency and can be summarized as the Gnome ecosystem.

Happy Hacking,

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