Re: Low-Vision user observation

Ok, so as promised, here's my observation of my experience starting with
3.6.  Note that this was done in a VirtualBox instance and a physical
installation will probably happen later this week.  Here goes....

WARNING:  Long, but hopefully insightful review.  If this review should
be placed somewhere else, please let me know.

Magnifier Configuration:

Indeed, finding my way to the Accessibility icon was easy enough because
I still have enough vision to get by on that.  (Note: A shipped
wallpaper by any distro could negatively affect one's ability to get to
the Accessibiliy icon if it is too bright of a wallpaper, overpowering
the ability to see activity bar) I had not noticed the options button
until it was pointed out to me.  Once I knew what to look for, then it
was "findable."

Immediately, there were several issues that came up once I enabled Zoom
and configured it for high contrast inverse.

1.  The activity bar on top and the notification alerts on the bottom
are by default black.  With inverse turned on, they became white under
magnification.  This made them unreadable.  I could barely even see the
notification alert and certainly can't tell what time it is.  As I do
add the GNOME shell extension allowing for notification applets in the
activity bar, I won't be able to observe applet notifications under

Similarly, the Alt+F2 run function is also now in white and I cannot see
what I am typing.  Likewise, I just noticed that the login after screen
lokout during idle usage is also unreadable.

2. The crosshairs option is nice, but I found it distracting for the
most part.  I suppose in all fairness if I stuck to it, after a while
I'd get used to it.  It was a lot easier to locate my mouse pointer than
a large cursor mouse pointer would be.  Nevertheless, the crosshairs do
interfere to some extent.  See this screenshot where configuring in
gnome-teak-tool, the crosshairs prevented me from seeing values as I
toggled up or down. 

3.  Performance is a concern.  I'll be fair and not completely judge the
performance because I was running in virtual machine mode.  It was jerky
moving around, my personal performance was a lot slower because of this.
I couldn't just zip around.  I found myself frustrated with having to
very slowly push my mouse to get to where I wanted to go.

I'm also not the kind of person who turns his machine off frequently.  I
work off of my computer literally 24/7 and eventually leaving the vm
running with magnification enabled soon chewed up even the RAM on my
physical machine which overall runs on 4GB RAM.  I had to do a hard

General Usage:

My main challenge when using a computer these days is getting good high
contrast inversion along with larger fonts and windows.  Generally, I
set my fonts on the system to about 16.    I cannot see the value in
using magnification as a workaround to address these needs on a
full-time basis.  The tradeoff in system performance and user
performance is just too expensive.

I do, however, see use of inversed magnification on an as-needed basis.
For example, examining websites.  See this bug report filed with Mozilla
a few months ago that I hope will resolve one particular example of need
for inversion.  I also occassionally need it for emails and some
documents opened in LibreOffice that also encounter the same problems I
see with Firefox.  The magnifier would resolve some of these issues

My typical initial configuration of a desktop is to first enable
HighContrastInverse theme (so I can quickly stop my eyes from watering)
and then scale my mouse to be a larger size and finally configure my
system settings fonts and size.  Then after this "master level"
configuration, I may have to go into specific applications and make
tweaks to color and fonts there because some applications simply are not
optimal defaulting to system settings.  (This latter is probably nothing
we can do in this particular forum and just means dealing with the app's
developers to address it directly.)

That first step of getting to HighContrastInverse is probably the most
challenging because I have to first encounter a white window in
gnome-tweak-tool before I can finally find my way to the specific
setting under the right tab.  Once that is accomplished, (through much
eye-squinting) the rest is "accessibly-easy" to do.

However, now... with the introduction of GNOME 3.6, that theme is no
longer provided.  I did copy the theme from previous GNOME 3.4 but it
appears to be quite sub-optimal and broken.  I'm told GTK+ went through
a major revamp for 3.6 and thus previous themes do not always work well.

The mouse pointer is the next biggest challenge as it is often far too
small for me to see in shipped default.  With the introduction of GNOME
3, I no longer had the ability to scale my mouse.  Instead, I would
search on the web to find large-sized pointers and manually add them to
my installation.  I sorely miss the ability to resize my pointer and
would like to see GNOME either put back mouse scaling option or provide
a set of large pointers as an option to choose from in

Naturally, I need to remember exactly where I'm supposed to put themes
or pointers in my filesystem and because this is a one-time thing to do
with each installation, I find myself scatching my head for a few
minutes to recollect the steps I was supposed to do with each new
release.  Clearly, this wouldn't be a good process for less-experienced
GNOME users.

I like that High Contrast is now an option listed under the
Accessibility Icon.  However, I'm disappointed HighContrastInverse isn't
also an option.  Having this option + a hotkey combination to
automatically enable this upon first setup would be awesome and remove
much of my initial machine setup challenges.  If this could be done
without affecting the GNOME activity bar and notification alerts, it
would be super-awesome.

Bottom Line:

I think the magnification features introduced in 3.6 are wonderful and I
definitely have some use for it, and I can see many of my brethren
having even more use for it.  However, I don't feel it was a good
strategy to completely remove the ability to do normal desktop inverse
configuration and move everyone into the magnification arena.  One size
doesn't fit all people and I think removing functions that existed
previously was not the best move.  

I would very much like to see us re-assess how low-vision users, who do
not rely on magnification as a whole, configure their machines and see
how we can make the steps shorter and more intuitive.

I find that sadly, until a workable version of the pre-existing
HighContrastInverse theme is available for 3.6, 3.6 is generally not
usable for me and is literally more painful to my eyes with the
increased brightness that appears now.  (Yes, its true, I now live with
the shades drawn in my house all day long.)  3.6 fills certain gaps that
were problematic for me in previous versions, but at the same time
eliminated the things that worked for me.

For me, the ultimate solution in an ideal world would be not to even
create a workable Inverse theme, but to literally toggle screen
inversion in the workarea space of GNOME.  But the theme option has been
a reasonable fall-back in lieu of this toggle option.


On Sat, 2012-09-29 at 17:49 -0500, Bryen M Yunashko wrote:
> Thanks Peter,
> You've given me some good pointers.   I'm going to wipe out this
> installation and start all over again tomorrow and go through the
> scenario as you've laid out.  I think there's still a few things left to
> be desired, based on some of the things I've tried with your
> suggestions.  But probably would be best for me to start from scratch
> and see what is already addressed versus whatever I may have futzed up
> trying to fiddle through things.
> More later.  Thanks!
> Bryen
> On Sat, 2012-09-29 at 15:01 -0700, Peter Korn wrote:
> > Hi Bryen,
> > 
> > If you can find the Universal Access icon in the bar at the top of
> > your screen, most of the way to the right, High Contrast is the first
> > option in that menu, and Zoom is the second one.
> > 
> > From the Universal Access control panel (last item in that same menu)
> > you can bring up the Zoom Options pane.  From there, choose the Color
> > Effects tab, and the first effect you can choose is "White on Black",
> > which will apply a system-wide inverse video to your screen.  There
> > are other Color Effects in that pane you might find useful.
> > 
> > There is no independent magnification of the mouse separate from the
> > overall magnification level - the two track each other.  BUT, there is
> > a special Crosshairs setting (another of the tab panels in Zoom
> > settings) where you can configure the magnifier to place a set of
> > crosshairs on the screen indicating the mouse point.  These crosshairs
> > can be the color of your choosing (including translucency), thickness
> > of your choosing, and length of your choosing. They can also stop
> > short of overlapping the mouse to allow you to more easily see the
> > mouse cursor shape.
> > 
> > 
> > Many of these options - though not the UI to configure them - were
> > tested as part of the AEGIS end-user pilot testing we did of GNOME
> > Shell Magnifier.  Feedback on the features themselves was very
> > positive.  The end-user UI wasn't finalized until after the pilots, as
> > part of conversations with the GNOME UI team.  I'll let others who
> > were closer to that speak to those details.
> > 
> > 
> > Regards,
> > 
> > Peter
> > 
> > On 9/29/2012 12:22 PM, Bryen M Yunashko wrote:
> > 
> > > I've just installed 3.6 on my machine, and I'm finding with each
> > > release, the path to configuring my system to be optimal as a low-vision
> > > user is quite painful.   Yes, I see new features, but the ability to get
> > > to them in order to configure them is extremely difficult and getting
> > > more difficult as my vision becomes worse.  
> > > 
> > > I have no intentions of using this as a thread to bash anyone.  Instead,
> > > I'd like to ask if there's been any kind of low-vision user observation
> > > tracking going on.   Documenting how we use and the steps it takes us to
> > > get from point A to point B?
> > > 
> > > Some instant examples of some of my challenges when I set up a new
> > > system:
> > > 
> > > - By default, all apps are in white (or bright) background.  Makes it a
> > > huge challenge to get to gnome-tweak-tool and see where to change an
> > > option to a more comfortable theme.   (By the way, HighContrastInverse
> > > has been dropped from 3.6.  Anyone know why this is?)
> > > 
> > > - There seems to be no option to scale your mouse cursor to a
> > > comfortable size.  This option existed in GNOME 2.x.  
> > > 
> > > - I'm very excited about the new features of GNOME magnification, but
> > > can't find where to configure.
> > > 
> > > - Tweaking fonts is also poses challenge as in some windows, such as
> > > g-t-t or gnome-control-center.
> > > 
> > > In any case, while some of my examples can obviously be filed as bugs
> > > (and I will be filing them), I think it would be useful to observe a
> > > typical low-vision user walkthrough setup and pull together common
> > > experiences that could further enhance a future release of GNOME for
> > > low-vision accessibility.  Perhaps some surveys or something?  Or does
> > > something already exist and I missed the boat on it?
> > > 
> > > Bryen
> > > 
> > > 
> > > 
> > > 
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > gnome-accessibility-list mailing list
> > > gnome-accessibility-list gnome org
> > >
> > 
> > -- 
> > Oracle
> > Peter Korn | Accessibility Principal
> > Phone: +1 650 5069522 
> > 500 Oracle Parkway | Redwood City, CA 94065 
> > Green Oracle Oracle is committed to developing practices and products
> > that help protect the environment 

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