Re: [orca-list] possibly OT: Oracle takeover

Hi Anthony (and everyone):

Thank you very much for your support.  I think sending the message to a broader audience is indeed the right 
thing to do.  This is not about me getting my job back - I am confident that I can find work and I will 
contribute to my new job/employer with the same respect and enthusiasm that I treated this past job.  
Instead, this is more about keeping the community alive and thriving.  That goes beyond a single individual 
and a single company.

In my messages, I've made the careful word choices of "organizations" and "staffed/funded appropriately".

First: "organizations". GNOME is a community project.  As such, it is not necessarily reasonable to insist 
that one single organization shoulder all the responsibility.  Having said that, I should also say I think 
that having a single organization support a core team is the most efficient means to accomplish the job.  We 
achieved a lot at Sun Microsystems because of its courage and conviction to support a team; I feel very lucky 
to have been part of that.

For the "staffing/funding appropriately" portion, we need to be realistic about the work.  Take a look at  It contains the more immediate touch points for GNOME 3.0 
accessibility 6 months from now.  You'll quickly see the scope of the problem.  Some of the tasks have nobody 
on them, others have people working in their spare time, others have lost staff or will be losing staff soon. 
 At the same time, a number of the tasks can easily be full time work. Staffed appropriately, however, I 
believe we can accomplish the task.

On a higher level, there are a couple main aspects of the accessibility work on the GNOME3 page: 1) fixing 
problems in the user experience and infrastructure, and 2) working on assistive technologies.

Working on assistive technologies such as Orca, Caribou, etc., need specific individuals with clear domain 
expertise.  I don't believe they can be done well in someone's spare time and I think full time positions are 
needed to make the more complex assistive technologies provide compelling and usable experiences for end 

That brings us to fixing problems in the user experience and infrastructure.  This is the tougher nut to 
crack and I believe it involves all mainstream developers.  We need to continue to educate mainstream 
developers about designing, developing, and testing for accessibility.

Imagine we could turn back the clock and mainstream developers approached accessibility the same zeal they 
approach internationalization.  We wouldn't be fighting with Firefox, Evince, WebKit, GNOME Shell, 
PulseAudio, etc., etc.  The developers of those projects would have designed, developed, and tested for 
accessibility from the beginning.  We could then focus more on improving assistive technologies and 
potentially researching new access techniques.

So, when it comes to "appropriate staffing/funding", I mean not only for direct assistive technology work, 
but also for accessible design, development, and testing.  Designing for accessibility is particularly 
important because it vastly reduces the overall cost of the entire system.  In other words, whereas 
appropriate staffing/funding is needed from some organizations to support assistive technology work, 
appropriate staffing/funding is needed from all organizations to support accessibility.

For the past few years, I've been mulling over different scenarios for how we might be able to support the 
open source community once the last "big money" player pulled out from the game.  This thinking was initially 
sparked when Digital pulled out of accessibility back in the 90's and it was refreshed when IBM pulled out a 
couple years ago.  I have several ideas, but for now my main goal is to help organizations realize the 
importance of keeping this community alive and properly resourced.  With that support, we will be able to 
achieve great things.


On Feb 6, 2010, at 7:29 AM, Anthony Sales wrote:

Obviously everyone is shocked by the news and it will be particularly disturbing for Wille who has lost his 
source of income and a project he enjoyed working on. It seems very short sighted of Oracle to do this - I 
do know someone else who works on accessibility at Oracle and I will contact him to see if he knows 
anything more about it etc. I am sure that Willie will found another job in the near future, but there is 
no guarantee it will be on accessibility. So in the meantime we need to unite on one strategy to petition 
Oracle and/or try to get Willie another Job. So what do you recommend we do Willie? Set up an online 
partition or e-mail oracle directly? Please advise. Then there is the question of what happens if Willie 
isn't able to work on Orca anymore - we need to discuss as a community what the way forward is, identify 
possible developers who have the skill and time to do this. Again maybe Willie has some suggestions?

Finally, although I may be being pessimistic, I think this is yet another demonstration that the 'big 
players' do not take accessibility that seriously, and we will always be playing catch-up and fighting with 
fancy graphical/audio features introduced in mainstream distributions, and maybe this supports my personal 
view that it would be better if all of the developers working ion accessibility worked on producing a VI 
distro together rather than all adding small contributions to mainstream projects. But I am not trying to 
start any arguments and will support what ever strategy the community decide upon  to the best of my 
limited ability.

Anyway can I suggest we start a thread now on the Orca mailing list with the Subject title: Orca - 
suggestions for the future!

Finally this would be an ideal opportunity for Canonical to demonstrate they take accessibility seriously 
by snapping up Willie as fast as they can!


-----Original Message-----
From: orca-list-bounces gnome org [mailto:orca-list-bounces gnome org] On Behalf Of Aaruni
Sent: 06 February 2010 11:12
To: hackingKK
Cc: orca-list gnome org
Subject: Re: [orca-list] possibly OT: Oracle takeover

Hi will and all, there cannot be 2 thoughts on what a great service
orca has done for accessibility to the blind and partially sighted. I
am really dumstruck as to what I can say. Orca means so much to all of
us that we must do whatever possible to sustain this project and let a
true accessibility be everybody's realised dream. If anybody decides
to put up an online petition I'll do my best to muster as many
signatures as possible. Orca means a whole real world to the VI
community of the developing countries.
I sincerely pray that things remain the same for the core developers
of orca with heftier pay packets from the new company.

On 06/02/2010, hackingKK <hackingkk gmail com> wrote:
On Friday 05 February 2010 04:17 AM, Willie Walker wrote:
Hi Igor:

I'm now working on Orca and leading the GNOME Accessibility project in my
spare time.


On Feb 4, 2010, at 2:46 PM, Igor Gueths wrote:

Hi all. Just out of curiosity, with Oracle having bought Sun, is anything
to change with regards to Orca development? Based on my preliminary
research, it
seems that the MySQL entity will be left relatively intact and
independent. Does
the same hold true in this case? Thanks.

I think we can at least make a strong point and put it across to Oracle.
Things might just remain the same.

Happy hacking.

Orca-list mailing list
Orca-list gnome org
Visit for more information on Orca.
The manual is at
The FAQ is at
Netiquette Guidelines are at
Log bugs and feature requests at

Orca-list mailing list
Orca-list gnome org
Visit for more information on Orca.
The manual is at
The FAQ is at
Netiquette Guidelines are at
Log bugs and feature requests at
Orca-list mailing list
Orca-list gnome org
Visit for more information on Orca.
The manual is at
The FAQ is at
Netiquette Guidelines are at
Log bugs and feature requests at

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