Re: [orca-list] An Open Letter to Oracle on the Topic Of Accessibility

I understand where Willie is coming from. Just because they have seemingly took the wrong path with Orca doesn't necessarily mean that they will stop accessibility work in all areas. However, when a company comes in and lays off the lead developer of Orca, not to mention the man who pretty much single-handedly kept Open Solaris one of the most accessible distros, without so much as a word to their reasons why or to the future of those projects, they should expect some harsh backlash. Will is like the accessibility version of a knight in shining armor, and along comes this evil monster who, unprevoked, attacked our knight. Of course people are gonna be mad as hell. So, if Oracle doesn't like blanket accusations hurled at them, they shouldn't take such foolish actions. I also understand that Oracle may choose to not cooporate with accessibility work in the future if they are met with such reaction. That is, of course, up to them. It's not like they are the only choice. MySQL is, as far as I can tell, completely accessible.  I have had no trouble using phpmyadmin. Of course it's been a while, but I doubt it has changed much, it's a web interface after all. There's also something called postgerSQL or something like that. I don't know how accessible it is, but it is another alternative that may be worth checking in to and premoting if they take accessibility seriously.

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On Tue, 2010-02-23 at 18:26 +0000, Michael Whapples wrote:
I have to say, in some ways regretfully, I am drawing the same 
conclusion. I say regretfully because with all the work done on 
opensolaris to make it accessible (I think Will did much of that from 
what I read), it was one of the best gnome systems for accessibility.

Here are a few things leading to my conclusion:
* Some time ago I had reason to contact oracle about a piece of software 
from them. In that contact I commented on what accessibility issues I 
encountered and what could be done to make it a bit better for 
accessibility. The response wasn't great, the software in question was 
an opensource package (sqldeveloper) and for this reason it did not fall 
under the same support for accessibility as other oracle products. May 
be Orca is seen the same way, I tried to put this behind me when 
considering the orca decision though.
* I personally wrote to oracle on the Monday following Joanie's original 
open letter. My contact mainly voiced concerns for how this will impact 
on unix accessibility in general, but pointing out that it could impact 
negatively on the accessibility of solaris (it is worth considering what 
might the business reasons be for doing something). I asked for some 
clarification on how oracle intends to proceed with the accessibility of 
solaris as I was considering learning more about it but not wanting to 
learn something which may become inaccessible to me. At this point I 
have received no response. This seems bad and I intend to chase them up 
on this in a week or so if I don't here anything. We may not get 
responses we want to hear but that would be better than no response.
* As most of my learning of the solaris way would be done on 
opensolaris, I decided to post a question on both the indiana-discuss 
and accessibility-discuss lists asking if anyone knew what the future 
is. I had one response, I am not sure that it represented the actual 
intent on oracle and was probably a personal view, but no other response 
giving any clear idea where it may go.

As Joanie said in her open letter, you would hope oracle cares about its 
users, at the moment I feel they don't care about making there system 
usable by me, for that reason I will try and avoid their products where 
ever possible now, unless they prove my current feelings are wrong. What 
a contrast to the view I took on Sun's accessibility, which thanks to 
much of the gnome accessibility work, I approached with a favourable view.

Michael Whapples
On 01/-10/-28163 08:59 PM, hackingKK wrote:
> I have given up on Oracle.
> They don't think blind people deserve an opportunity to use computers 
> for their daily work.  For them blind people (and perhaps other 
> disabled people ) don't need any improvement in their employability or 
> standard of life.
> Let's try and find out alternative options which can keep orca alive 
> and going on.
> Happy hacking.
> Krishnakant.
> On Tuesday 23 February 2010 10:36 PM, Aaruni wrote:
>> Hi Joani, could you please give the url for the petitions?
>> Thanks,
>> Aruni.
>> On 08/02/2010, Steve Holmes<steve holmes88 gmail com>  wrote:
>>> Hash: RIPEMD160
>>> This is an excellent open letter.  I could have never written anything
>>> as elegant as this.  I've been away from my system since last night so
>>> have a bit of catching up to do.  I have a blog that has been pretty
>>> much dormant til now so this will give me some ideas to post about:).
>>> On Sun, Feb 07, 2010 at 03:05:25PM -0500, Joanmarie Diggs wrote:
>>>> Hey again.
>>>> I wanted to thank those of you who left comments on my blog on this
>>>> topic, and I'd encourage those of you who have not but who care about
>>>> the future of GNOME accessibility in general, and Orca in 
>>>> particular, do
>>>> the same. After all, I guarantee you that Oracle could care less about
>>>> me; it is my sincerest hope that they care about you, the user.
>>>> Also, for those of you with your own blogs who have written similar
>>>> entries on this topic, please do not be shy about "shameless self
>>>> promotion" in the form of adding a link to your entry in the 
>>>> comments of
>>>> my blog. Alternatively, send me a link to what you've written so 
>>>> that I
>>>> can point to it within my entry.
>>>> My hope is that what remains of this weekend continues to see 
>>>> voices of
>>>> concern, in writing, in blogs and in comments. The next step would 
>>>> be to
>>>> ensure that our collective voices get noticed by those who need to
>>>> notice them. :-)
>>>> Thanks again guys. Hopefully soon we'll be able to get back to the
>>>> business of actually working on accessibility, rather than trying to
>>>> prevent its demise.
>>>> --joanie
>>>> On Sun, 2010-02-07 at 11:14 -0500, Joanmarie Diggs wrote:
>>>>> 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.
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>> Visit for more information on Orca.
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>>>> Log bugs and feature requests at
>>> Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
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>>> El0An3hMwSg7ZFI7lCTiFEiUWpj8gof6
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>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Orca-list mailing list
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>>> 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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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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