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FOSS and Disabled Communities Out of Touch

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the cross-talking dept.

263

Yinepuhotep writes "Newsforge has a thought-provoking article on the lack of communication between the FOSS community and disabled persons." From the article: "How can the FOSS community address the issues of the disabled? The most urgent task is to improve documentation. Perhaps you can make it a personal goal to be able to configure your favorite FOSS tool blindfolded while someone reads your improved instructions aloud. Your local LUG could organize ways to connect volunteers to assist disabled users with installations. Be sure to contact local disability rights groups to let them know what you're doing. They may also be able to provide more feedback about needs in your community."

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someone needed to read it aloud? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951158)

Hmm, it would be a worthy project to make the man pages be able to read themselves aloud.

Re:someone needed to read it aloud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951167)

All we need is a Braille shell and we'll be set!

Re:someone needed to read it aloud? (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951181)

$ man bash | flite

That will do it. It's hideous, but it will do it.

Re:someone needed to read it aloud? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951203)

OMG, I have that playing right now.

It feels like WOPR is talking to me.

flite "good afternoon professor falken"
flite "would you like to play a game?"

--
BMO

Re:someone needed to read it aloud? (3, Funny)

stebe (412517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951649)

I am all for these man pages that read themselves aloud. Sometimes it is just so hard to muster the proper indignation needed to tell a blind newbie GSTRTFMTY (Get Someone To RTFM To You).

Slashdot Editor's Being Un-PC (1, Funny)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951166)

FOSS and Disabled Communities Out of Touch

The article headline is a bad joke, right?

Re:Slashdot Editor's Being Un-PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951273)

I thought it was a pretty good joke myself. Perhaps a little too subtle though. May I recommend changing the header to one of the following:

"FOSS is Crippled"

"FOSS is Worth an Arm and a Leg, or Two"

"Study shows FOSS has Fewer Blind Programmers than Microsoft Does"

\one window ticket please
\\preferrably not next to a fat chick
\\\yeah I know this isn't fark

Re:Slashdot Editor's Being Un-PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951392)

You sad, pathetic whiny bastard. Get over yourself.

Re:Slashdot Editor's Being Un-PC (2, Insightful)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951638)

The thing that annoys me is this use of the word 'community'. This implies that FOSS people are one coherent group, or disabled people are one coherent groups. We are all individuals.

Re:Slashdot Editor's Being Un-PC (2, Funny)

UltimateRobotLover (806059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951679)

Yes! We're all individuals!

Not surprising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951170)

Open source programmers tend to be extreme right-wingers. They probably think disabled people are just being "lazy" and would all magically be healed if it wasn't for the evil "welfare state".

Re:Not surprising (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951177)

wtf? most open source zealots are communists/socialists.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951182)

What, you mean computer software isn't written by republicans?

Re:Not surprising (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951243)

"open source zealot" and "software engineer" are two entirely different occupations.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951429)

Disabled communities are the disabled communities of RedHat, Suse, Mandriva, ... and many others more.

Why?
Idntknwn.

We need full documentation, projects's papers, Foo's papers, planning's papers, economy's papers, open source business's papers, ...

Where are they those?
Idntknwn, many things are hidden.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951248)

> What, you mean computer software isn't written by republicans?

Most republicans have the equivalent of an 8th grade education, so no, computer software is most likely NOT written by rethuglicans.

Re:Not surprising (2, Funny)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951310)

Trigun, don't feed the anoynmous trolls! And being an extreme-right winger myself, disabled users sounds like a great underexploited market niche.

Re:Not surprising (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951574)

Either this was sarcasm/satire, or "underexploited" was just an awful choice of words.

This is a tough place for developers to be in... (5, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951172)

This is definitely a challenge for all developers world wide. However, this is nothing new, or unique to FOSS, just an old problem approached from a new perspective.

As mentioned in the article, this leads back to an earlier Slashdot news post, on the Consistency/Efficiency debate.

I would be inclined to lean towards consistency myself, and side with the disabled folks, but how can you create new and exciting platforms while still being maintaining familiarity. If you ask me, the web is an excellent case study in creating exciting new products, while simultaneously establishing conventions.

Perhaps this article shouldn't be taken as a call to turn all of the FOSS software into retail clones, but to concentrate on bringing innovative features, while still maintaining a consistant and familiar interface.

Community a natural market for FOSS (5, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951316)

This is definitely a challenge for all developers world wide. However, this is nothing new, or unique to FOSS, just an old problem approached from a new perspective.


Yes. However, what surprises me is that the Free Software community doesn't have stronger ties with community-centric organisations such as voluntary groups, human rights groups, etc. They're really natural allies, considering the ethical concerns that both groups take seriously etc.

Re:Community a natural market for FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951387)

> considering the ethical concerns that both groups take seriously

Being forced to use "M$ Winblows" is not exactly a fundamental human rights issue. The free software people take their own ethical slant far too seriously, in the big picture.

Re:Community a natural market for FOSS (3, Insightful)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951508)

That's true, but it's fairly natural and probably all right. Most people, that is those few that chose to work on any such issues focus on just one and take it "too serious", that is concentrate on it to the detriment of other issues. Take the animal rights guys for example. Or even the so-called anti globalisation people.

The cool thing is that when lots of people concentrate on things that are important to them, most things get covered and most things get covered fairly deeply. Sure I don't want to contemplate a world where everyone is an RMS, but a few of them are a very good thing.

Re:This is a tough place for developers to be in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951344)

No, I'd say it is unique to FOSS, in the computer world. An army of software developers, independently scratching their itches, just doesn't tend to care about the needs and wants of other demographics. It's difficult to learn how to program if you're blind, and so, on the whole, the motivation is weaker for FOSS to cater to the blind.

The one exception I can think of is this blind guy in my college class [columbia.edu] who wrote some text-to-speech software for Linux. A great man.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (5, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951174)

Can a blind person install and configure windows, iis, SQL server, exchange, and active directory?

Once your favorite OSS tool is installed can a blind person use them?

How about other types of disabilities? How about if a person is blind and deaf? Or is missing both arms? Or is a quadrapeligic? How do we help them install and use linux?

It seems to me that you have to draw the line someplace. If somebody wants to put forth the effort then great but honestly why don't we concentrate on getting the documentation so that a reasonably intelligent non disabled person can use it first. Then we can worry about the blind.

In the mean time if a blind person wants to run linux please have them contact their local LUG, I am pretty sure somebody would step up to the plate. Another option might be to buy a pre-installed linux machine, lots of companies sell them.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951189)

Actually, linux would be more user-friendly to a blind person than a gui. Assuming that they could type, and had a braille interface like in Sneakers, it would be much easier to install than windows XP, depending on the distro.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (5, Informative)

murr (214674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951211)

an a blind person install and configure windows, iis, SQL server, exchange, and active directory?

I don't know about that, but MacOS X (starting with 10.4) is designed to be installable by a blind person.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951388)

Ok, what then? What about installing photoshop or oracle or apache?

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951614)

Blind person installing photoshop.. interesting.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (3, Interesting)

powermacx (887715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951417)

Tiger's (OS X 10.4) VoiceOver is indeed very useful. I'm not blind, but I had to go on for several days without a monitor after a power surge killed my CRT. Luckily I remembered the key combo to activate VoiceOver, and for a few days I used my Mac "blind", and was able to send and receive emails, even to the point of arranging my next monitor purchase thru it.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951288)

If somebody wants to put forth the effort then great but honestly why don't we concentrate on getting the documentation so that a reasonably intelligent non disabled person can use it first. Then we can worry about the blind.

/me bows down

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (2, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951314)

First: no. A blind person has significant problems doing all of those things.

I don't think that's a very good excuse though: "sure we suck, but the other guys do too."

Fact is, a blind person can still both hear and read. Linux has some base advantage here, because everything can be acomplished from a command-line, and face it, if you're blind it's a lot easier to do "cp a b" than it is to point at the tiny picture and drag it to the othe tiny picture, then let go.

It's usually not that hard to make a program more accessible. It's not an all or nothing thing. A little improvement is still a little improvement.

I agree with you that being able to *use* a system is more important than being able to install and configure a system, but that doesn't mean both aren't desireable.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

gormanly (134067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951402)

These should help... I'm still astounded at the laziness of /.ers who'll gabble on and on w/o googling something like "linux blind" and seeing what turns up

The Command Line Interface - Ideal For Blind Users [eklhad.net]

Guide to Emacspeak [sourceforge.net]

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (3, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951540)

Guide to Emacspeak...

Forcing the blind to use emacs goes beyond discrimination and into just plain cruel. ;)

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (5, Insightful)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951321)

Other than configuring Windows, all the other examples you give are server administration related. While there are people with certain disabilities that are system administrators, most have already solved many of the issues they'll face in that field. Many are only partially disabled or have the proper equipment to deal with the situations they'll come up against.

I believe more important is that the OSS community focus on making user software accessible to people with disabilities. Gnome focuses on this quite a bit. Firefox has done a decent job by including mouse gestures. There's still plenty of room for improvement, however.

My wife works as an occupational therapist and I spoke with her about this a few months ago. She said that most popular Windows software is pretty well designed for people with handicaps (customizable menus, font sizes, color schemes, layout, etc). She hasn't worked with many linux programs, so she couldn't provide much of a comparison, but your comments are why disabled people might not choose linux over Windows. Just like most users, they just want software that works for them. If the software needs to be designed slightly better to work for them, then where's the harm in trying to improve it?

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951393)

"She hasn't worked with many linux programs, so she couldn't provide much of a comparison, but your comments are why disabled people might not choose linux over Windows."

That's fine. I say let's not worry about the disabled people until we get the corporations to adopt linux on their desktop. That's the prize. Get the corporations and the hardware manufacturers will write drivers. Get the corporations and the rest will follow.

"Just like most users, they just want software that works for them. If the software needs to be designed slightly better to work for them, then where's the harm in trying to improve it?"

WHere is the harm? You just stated the harm. Every minute and every dollar spent making linux work for the blind is a minute not spent making linux work better for the average user. Do you want the programmers to spend a half a year making their software talk or spend a half a year putting in that shiny GUI so your average windows shlub won't be freaked out because he has to GASP *edit a file!!!!!!*.

The windows shlubs are not satisfied yet, you really want to abandon those losers and pursue the handicapped?

Well if you read between the lines you know where I stand. Fuck all of them. Keep making linux better for the geek, I use it because it works for me and I want all those developers to continue to work to make ME happy. I already resent all the effort to try to appease a bunch of retards who think editing a file scary work.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (4, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951530)

WHere is the harm? You just stated the harm. Every minute and every dollar spent making linux work for the blind is a minute not spent making linux work better for the average user.

Actually, that's not quite true. One of the major bullet points for large corporations these days is complying with the myriad disabled worker regulations they must comply with regarding accessibility, etc.

Having a company workstation OS that can be configured for a disabled worker is a big plus, and would help adoption by the large corporations. My point being that improving accessibility for the disabled is a win-win, for both the corporations and disabled individuals.

Not saying that it would cause immediate migration or anything, but it *would* be a plus.

Strat

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (3, Informative)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951364)

The thing is, if you make everything clean enough to be used by users with disabilities, the entire system ALSO becomes more usable for regular users, usually.

A good example is webpages. Having them be standards compliant is important for users with disabilities. The standards compliance also helps regular users on text-based browsers, and regular users in general.

Standardization helps assistive technologies... (3, Insightful)

StandardsSchmandards (828326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951421)

It seems to me that you have to draw the line someplace.
A common mistake is to treat disabled users as a separate group. In fact, disability is something that affects most people at some time in their life and disabled users (with varying disability) will exist in all target groups you can come up with for your OSS project. Instead, focus on standardization. In this way you will enable assistive technologies such as screen readers, magnifiers and braille displays to make the most out of your application. A few hints: If your OSS project is as web app, use the W3C specifications for HTML [w3.org] , test your app with the W3C validator [w3.org] and learn about basic semantic markup. This goes for all you Wordpress template creators out there as well. If you project is a Windows app, make sure it is compatible with Microsoft Active Accessibility Api [microsoft.com] . In general, follow the GUI guidelines or the environment your application is supposed to be used in.

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951465)

It seems to me that you have to draw the line someplace.

Yes you do, but it seems to me that right now it's drawn far too far this side of anywhere that's useful for disabled people.

If somebody wants to put forth the effort then great but honestly why don't we concentrate on getting the documentation so that a reasonably intelligent non disabled person can use it first. Then we can worry about the blind.

You do realise that it most cases, getting documentation usable for a blind person will automatically make it usable for your "normal" person too, don't you?

Re:Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (1)

Mr.Spaz (468833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951527)

I think he's referring to the state of documentation content, rather than format or accessability: Let's get good, solid documentation that is concise, relevant, and doesn't require advanced knowledge to understand, and then we'll worry about ensuring it's accessable to everyone and anyone.

In my opinion, adding the additional onus of ensuring complete accessability to writing documentation would simply degrade the quality of the documentation for most OSS apps I've used even further. Documentation, as much as it is stressed, generally appears to be written as an afterthought or sloppily compiled along the way during development and rarely revisited. If the documentation is relatively complete, it often suffers from being written at a very high level and therefore out of reach for most new users. O'Reilly and company makes a killing in the secondary documentation market for these very reasons.

What we need is more disabled OSS developers... (4, Funny)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951179)

... poke an OSS developer in the eyes today!

Disabled Seeking A Way To Sue FOSS? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951186)

They can't seem to get a grip on FOSS! I've sure got to hand it to them , they've succeeded in suing everyone else for not providing access to the disabled, so now they've turned to FOSS? They should know that lawsuits are only slightly more efficient than the one-armed bandits that Las Vegas casinos use in making money. I know they won't like the bad news, but it's best to put your best foot forward and go into such ventures with both eyes open wide , even if you are blind. As they say, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye .

I'm certain that our answers will be a sight for sore eyes to the lawyers who represent the disabled in such lawsuits. They'll undoubtedly be falling down with laughter at what they read here.

So in ending, as the disabled leper said to the prostitute: "Keep the tip!"

Just FOSS? (2, Insightful)

odano (735445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951200)

How well does commercial software meet the needs of the disabled? I think all software needs to be updated, but surely it isn't just FOSS developers that are out of touch with the needs of the disabled.

It's funny... (-1, Troll)

cr0z01d (670262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951207)

It's funny to try and serve the disabled with FOSS... the user interface is so bad most of the time that people without disabilities have trouble.

Get a user inteface that doesn't suck. Then we can talk about extending it for disabled users.

Re:It's funny... (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951213)

Coincidentially, I would imagine that good old command-line interface, which is well developed in Linux, compared to *cough cough* some OSes, would be the best for blind people in terms of accessibility.

Fact: text/command line interfaces *are* better (1)

ndim (715923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951472)

Coincidentially, I would imagine that good old command-line interface, which is well developed in Linux, compared to *cough cough* some OSes, would be the best for blind people in terms of accessibility.

I can confirm that as fact. I once was admin at a place where a (nearly) blind woman worked. Her hardware tools were a braille line which showed one line of the text console at a time and was read with the fingers, and a standard keyboard augmented with a few tactile markers at a few keycaps. On the software side, she used the shell (I can't remember whether it was tcsh or bash), vi and one of mutt or pine.

It was quite astonishing for me to see how fast she accomplished things.

She only used the screen magnification stuff for a single application with a very stupid X11-only (that is, non-text) interface, and didn't like to do that at all.

Sometimes all those screen readers and voice command systems for "modern" "accessibility enabled" GUI applications really appear just a fig leaf for software developers/companies who avoid the real problems of user interfaces -- and thus quite the opposite of progress.

Re:It's funny... (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951296)

We're working on it, but idiots keep throwing money at ximian!

what about blind people? (3, Interesting)

klasikahl (627381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951226)

dmwaters, a really cool blind lady, is an IRCop on Freenode. I wonder what she'd have to say about the article.

Re:what about blind people? (3, Informative)

klasikahl (627381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951234)

Oh, and she's also a Gentoo dev. How could I forget?

Re:what about blind people? (1)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951680)

I'm doing some sysadmin work with a blind guy from Florida and his capability is staggering. We use the same brand and model of notebook. We both run Gentoo. He had a problem with his alsa drivers the other day so I mailed him my /etc/modules.d/alsa file and he was able to fix his setup. He used to run a large site that managed a bunch of web cams in the Bahamas. He's on Skype. And so on and so forth.

I've never met him since I live several time zones away but if I didn't know he was blind I would never have known based on his technical competence.

Well that's all of us (1)

Cybert14 (952427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951228)

Until the Singularity, I consider all of us quite disabled. What is this ultra-low bandwidth interface known as the "keyboard" doing around?

larger problem (3, Insightful)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951229)

It's not just FOSS. The computer world as a whole has largely ignored them. There have been several notible attempts to make them equals (the W3C for example), but the problem is that software interface people are 1) generally not disabled and do not understand what it is like to be disabled, and 2) generally aren't even experts at all, but tossed in from the software development or marketing department. As a result they're often clueless about accessability (hell even usability is a serious problems in many cases).

This isn't limited to FOSS. For a perfect example, see Netscape.

Re:larger problem (1)

barefootgenius (926803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951262)

Glad to see people have completely missed one of the points of having FOSS. If you want it, do it, its your responsibility. We aren't talking about locked up proprietary code folks, if disabled people want disabled access they are more than welcome to submit whatever input they have.

Re:larger problem (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951346)

Bootstrapping problem. They can't add disabled access, because they need disabled access to do so.

Re:larger problem (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951570)

They do have access. It's very basic, but if it's good enough for this one guy in this thread to make a living doing Linux support for five years, it's probably good enough to edit source files and run GCC. Not that I'm saying they should have to do it themselves, just saying that getting started is not impossible.

Just to be crass and insensitive (3, Funny)

nickgrieve (87668) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951230)

The FOSS community has enough trouble getting things working for the able bodied let alone the disabled...

rimshot

thanks, I am here all week... tip your waitress...

Re:Just to be crass and insensitive (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951509)

killjoe actually has that angle pretty well covered, and managed to get upmodded insightful for it. Perhaps if you're said it seriously, and added a few details about Linux on the desktop, you'd have gotten something that would improve your karma (on Slashdot).

It might hurt your actual karma though, so, be forewarned.

Every man for himself (3, Insightful)

onesadcookie (621500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951233)

It strikes me that the open-source community is, by and large, an "every man for himself" environment. People create software that helps them solve the problems they have; they fix issues in that software that affect their usage of it. To a certain extent the highly organized, high-participation projects can alleviate that, but even there, if there's a dearth of volunteers for a particular task, what're the chances it'll actually get done?

That's not to say that all accessibility enhancements must be made by the disabled; there are of course a few charitable developers out there who'd be willing to take on these tasks for the greater good, and there are the friends and relatives of the disabled, who are in some sense "closer to the front line"... Realistically (or perhaps cynically) though, unless capable open-source developers are suffering without it, or unless someone sits down and pays for the development of it, the accessibility of open-source software is always going to be a low priority.

Don't like it? Do something about it yourself, or create a charitable foundation to pay for other people to. Such is capitalism, and such is human nature.

Also every government contractor for themself. (1)

spaceturtle (687994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951287)

It strikes me that Sun will be thinking hard about the best way to meet accessibility requirements so that they can win this bid.

Re:Also every government contractor for themself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951440)

And this is the problem with our society : Our governments make us spend a lot of resources (that could be spent elsewhere) for a very small group of people who are not better than others. Compassion is simply destroying our efficiency and we're losing our advantage over other society.

So true. (5, Interesting)

pimpsoftcom (877143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951238)

I'm what the state calls "Visually Disabled". Some people would rather just say I'm retarded, or even "useless". All are terms I often hear, despite the fact that I was born normal with better then 20/20 eyesight.

Like it or not there is a large rift between the needs of the disabled and the people willing to take the extra time to address it. Disabled people, no matter the affliction, all have the same problem today: Only the people who need the extra interface flexibility are the ones interested in doing anything about it. And 99% of the time, they still cant because what they need is required to be able to build that very same system. Its a recursive dependency.

We need a better focus on software based voice systems. Speech recognition, and yes better generation, it all needs to be there and sound good and be fast doing it. And yes, sounding good matters. I always laugh when I hear (google for festival, flite, blind linux) people talk about "eye candy" or "improved frame rates". They dont matter, and its just useless junk to me and others who lack the visual functions to care about how crisp the screen looks; What I and every other visually disabled person wants is "Ear Candy", the type of synthed voice that sounds like she or he really exists, so we dont get fed up with listening to that horrible robot voice all day and go crazy.

One thing that most people dont understand as well is that most of us who are disabled in any way at all are dirt poor. It could be from medical bills, the lack of the ability to even work because of our disability, the fact that to most we are seen as less then human so people dont want to hire us for work we can do, or any number of other reasons. The fact is, most of us do not have much money and have a lot of free time on our hands. We could be open sources greatest contributors if the OOS community cared enough to do the things we cant to help us make the tools we need. Once our hungry minds have the option, you have no idea how much we will use it.

I'm very lucky. I worked as a independent consulted for 5 years, taught myself as much as I could while I still had better eye sight then I do now in my "good" eye, and make sure to keep lights dim or off when I dont have to worry about a sightie needing more light to function so I dont get eye strain or migraines that could keep me from working due to my photo sensitivity. I made a living with Linux offering support, administration services, and my skills as a code monkey against all odds for 5 years, before my current job, because I did not give up. Many of my fellow disabled did not have the chance to use even that much sight, or did not get the time I did at a young age to learn things the "normal" way before my accident. That gave me a slight advantage, as now I know both worlds.

Most of us dont have that. But then again most people dont understand, they cant. So everybody reading this, pick a day out of the week and go to bed the night before wearing a blindfold. Wake up with it still on and go through just one day without your ability to see. At all. Then maybe you will get a hint of what it is like for us, OOS's most eager and unwelcome members. And I say only a hint as that is all you will get; Because the first time you fall down, bump into something and break soemthing, want to cook a meal or need to take a piss, the first thing your going to do is take that blindfold off. Just remember that many do not have that option.

Re:So true. (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951328)

I read most your post and see what you're saying and agree to an extent.

I'm disabled in the sense that I have very tight muscles and can't walk for more than an hour. While it's not going to cripple my life, it does mean that I'll never be able to play sports at the level of most people and I'd end up crawling before I finished even quarter of a marrathon.

Now I accept these are my limits.. and to an extent (I know this is a very mean thing to say but..) some disabled people need to accept that computers may just not be useable on there own at this stage. Most abled bodied people will full vision have trouble typing, finding stuff and such. How are you ment to teach a person who can't see the keyboard or the screen how to use a PC? It's like trying to build an IKEA bed in the dark.. Extremely difficult.

Now I'm not saying "hey, you can't do it, go rot". I'm just saying right now the interface has no easy way to work with blind people. I'd love to see a disabled friendly system, but as you've pointed out, you bump into stuff, have to feel around and hope for the best.. and really with a PC unless you use a set of speakers placed around the user, there really isn't any way to work it out..

But then hey maybe I just solved the problem untill money comes into it.. Use a program like NJstar and a mouse interface. Have the mouse "ping" as it moves and then read any text it scrolls over. That way it would read the symbols you'd input with the mouse.. It would work as a "feel in the dark" and I suspect could be very easy to program (any children's game can use this control system, so why not just adapt it).

Hell you could even go as far as making a full Linux varient for blind people. Include all the vital programs with the system and you're sorted..

But back to my point. Most people really won't help you guys out, they have no idea what it's like to be you (and honestly nor do I). They hopefully never will have to exprience your lives, but this also means they arn't willing to go out of their way to help you, unless you can show them a way to help without being them much trouble.

On the other hand if you could round up a group of guys/girls/midgets in penguin outfits to start working on a project like I mentioned above you would get HUGE media coverage (Blind guys building computer programs at 6). It's more or less the ultimate feel good story crossed with "kid out of no where makes huge company" story. So much so you could probably play off it to get funding for the project and hence not only fill a gap in software, but even raise money to support your products (you have a history of this, shouldn't be too hard if you helped build the system) and maybe even a way to pay for future projects along the same lines.

This post was ment to have a point.. but some how I've got into a huge long ass rant (in the ultimate geeky style). But maybe it'll set a spark off in someone.. I would help but I can't code and I doubt photoshop skills are any use to a blind guy (other than making icons I suppose.. which would also be rather useless..).

But maybe in the future things will improve for you and you'll get a blind OS.. I just don't think it'll ever be based on Windows due to the money involved in it and I doubt it'd be any Linux distros due to the boredom of implementing such systems without a reason (cough find a code monkey going blind.. tell him horror stories of no Slashdot.. giggle like a maniac as he codes all you'll ever need cough).

So aftr all this crap, I've lost my point.. but good luck any way :)

Re:So true. (1)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951353)

Now I accept these are my limits.. and to an extent (I know this is a very mean thing to say but..) some disabled people need to accept that computers may just not be useable on there own at this stage. Most abled bodied people will full vision have trouble typing, finding stuff and such. How are you ment to teach a person who can't see the keyboard or the screen how to use a PC? It's like trying to build an IKEA bed in the dark.. Extremely difficult.

Blind people have been using computers for years. There is speech synthesis and keyboards for the blind. It's not perfect, but it works.

I think Linux could become a great os of disabled people. Since it can easily be modified, and a lot is text-based.

Re:So true. (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951452)

But back to my point. Most people really won't help you guys out, they have no idea what it's like to be you (and honestly nor do I). They hopefully never will have to exprience your lives, but this also means they arn't willing to go out of their way to help you, unless you can show them a way to help without being them much trouble.

You obviously don't have what it takes to be an OSS developer if you aren't willing to learn new techniques that help others. A lot is said about the "scratch an itch" motivation for OSS developers, and all the abandoned projects on sourceforge are evidence that these types of developers exist, and if that is their only motivation they soon get bored and move on. The developers that stick with it though are more motivated by the challenge of writing software that people other than themselves can use. I know I learnt a lot when users of a project I am involved in started reporting bugs with the way the software interacted with screen reading software. I am glad they reported these bugs, and I am glad I did the research about accessibility that was needed to fix them.

Re:So true. (2, Interesting)

colmore (56499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951476)

Man, you're really talking out of your ass, aren't you?

Blind people have been using computers since day one. It's only modern GUIs that cause problems. Furthermore, while computer use might seem like a luxury to you, computers are a requirement for nearly every job a blind person could reasonably be expected to do.

I'm sorry about your muscle problems, but leading into your diatribe with them as a way of making your readers think you have some sort of special sympathy for the disabled (and thus we're supposed to be more charitable to your dismissive comments about disabled peoples' needs) is frankly ridiculous. You've been shut out of a small portion of life's opportunities. Major disabilities make finding *any* self-supporting path through life an extreme challenge. I believe the unemployment rate for the blind is somewhere around 80% (though don't quote me on that)

Anyway, you don't know what you're talking about, and you're discounting the hard work and legitimate needs of a lot of people. So kindly, STFU.

Re:So true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951535)

"...and I doubt it'd be any Linux distros due to..." The distro I'm using (SuSE 9.3) do support a Braille display out of the box and blind people do usually not need a Braille keyboard, they can manage a std. keyboard just fine.
The worst enemies of blind people are the GUI and the mouse wich are totally useless if you can't see them. The GUI/mouse combinationis also a pita to work with when you have problems with coordination.
--
Disabled ? No, I've got hyper hearing, super sensitive fingertips and I can smell you from 100 m away so I just don't need to use my eyes.

Re:So true. (1)

spaceturtle (687994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951424)

"first thing your going to do is take that blindfold off". Unfortunately this isn't that useful for comparing Linux and Windows, as I know of no way to use either without taking off my blindfold.

IMHO, the proposal to switch to ODF to be good for blind people. It has given a lot of publicity to the problems faced by the disabled. The KDE and GNOME teams have put a great deal of effort into making Linux accessible to normal people; and the KDE team seem to be eager to further there goals by making Linux accessible to people who face difficulties greater than normal. If we can get it to the point of having blind developers scratching itches, then Linux could become a quite nice OS. It already has the advantage of having been built on the principle that "everything is text".

I would expect that you would be welcome in any group that aims to make Linux more accessible (KDE & GNOME?) It would be interesting to hear your experiences with Linux. E.g. is there a programming language you can use? I imagine python would be a bit of a pain, with its visual layout. Do you use LaTeX or office --- I imagine that "What You See Is What You Get" is not the most popular acronym with the visually impaired.

Re:So true. (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951532)

If you took a poll that said "what's the most important thing OSS developers should work on" the answer would not be "better sounding text to speech".

Let's face it there are limited resources. Do we want those developers spending time to make it sound better for the benefit of few or make it look and work better for the benefit of the many?

This is cleary a situation where the disabled community is going to have to raise some funds and pay for the development or do it themselves. Perhaps a federal grant would be useful here.

Re:So true. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951567)

This is cleary a situation where the disabled community is going to have to raise some funds and pay for the development or do it themselves.

That's actually a good idea, If it works, let's remember one of the major reasons why it worked.

The point of open-source isn't that every user gets the source. It's that every user can hire someone to do something with the source. So, a blind community could hire a bunch of good developers, blind or otherwise, to make Linux better for the blind. That's possible on Windows, it just costs a lot more money to get a "shared source" license.

Re:So true. (1)

DaveHowe (51510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951589)

One problem there is there is already a solid (and *very* profitable) market for screen readers and so forth for the windoze platform. The companies who make those aren't interested in having to support linux and all its packages as well - its hard enough for them to keep up with windows and office, their main two "must haves" and their two biggest headaches.
    There just isn't a bulk market there (the number of computer-using blind people is not a large enough demographic to support a large marketplace) so prices are high, and choice limited; a large percentage of those already have invested in commercial products, don't want to make the transition to linux (a hell of a jump even for the sighted, without throwing in the additional problems the blind face in getting a new os up and running) or simply don't realise there is an option.
    It would be more productive to get screenreader companies interested in supporting an odf-compatable package (such as openoffice) than to try and build an entire new structure for xwindows from scratch (note that unix has been blind accessable since before DOS existed; braille based consoles weren't wonderful by any stretch of the imagination, and their single line of braille had to be scrolled up and down the window "buffer" a line at a time - but they were practical and usable.)

Re:So true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951605)

So I guess your opinion of Braille is something like: "a useless idiot who spent his time helping the few" ?
...and you do know that you can say that about allmost any scientist, don't you ? You do use E=MC2 every day don't you ? ...or Newtons equations ?
You don't have the competence to say "what's the most important thing X should work on" no one has that competence, that is a question wich only can be answered after years or maybe decades.
  • What if Nobel didn't work on dynamite ?
  • What if Maxim didn't work on the machine gun ?
  • What if radar wasn't invented when it was ?
  • What if Rolls Royce never worked on the Merlin ?
  • What if Braun didn't work in Peenemünde ?
  • What if Braun worked for the Sovjet Union instead for the USA after WW2 ?
  • What if Intel didn't work on the 4004 ?
  • What if Microsoft never worked for IBM ?
Try to see what impact any of those would have on the history...
...and pls. don't kill the evolution because that is what you are doing...
...and evolution is NOT measured in money... ...and the evolution in the last 30 years has allmost been nonexistent...
--
I'm not trolling...

Re:So true. (1)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951617)

i think this is one of those times when one starts to think about what is actually important in computer design for other people. i think, if i were blind, i'd be able to operate a unix shell quite well, if it had a programm which read letters and another program which read words. these programms could be started with the shell. then you have a computer which can be used by a blind person. i admit, the visual aspect of structuring texts would have to be replaced (maybe replacing tabbing for brackets with another way of expressing the environment, for example pitch (every tab from the start of a line would increase the pitch of the voice by a certain amount))

which blind person needs a graphical user interface? which sighted person needs one for that matter? i must admit to finding it nice when programming having 10 different shells open on one screen, so i can refer to what's written there.

the more you think about it, the more you see the advantage of emacs and vi as text-editors. one can go back or forward 50 words, search for the next instance of a particular word and go there, all from the keyboard. tools like this would be perfect for blind people.

Re:So true. (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951675)

We need a better focus on software based voice systems.

When speaking in terms of "software requirements", this is a broad one. It would be very interesting if you could state requirements that are much smaller. That way, they could simply take the form of bugs/issues.

Can you name software packages that would be much more usable "if only" they took care of this or that little thingy?

Re:So true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951683)

I always wondered why nobody creates a 17"(or bigger) braille "monitor" that can realistically "display" frames around messageboxes etc. and thus allow blind persons to feel windows

at the risk of karma...if it's FOSS (1)

atarione (601740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951249)

let's get the dev tools upto speed for disabled users...

and then they can damn well make the rest accessible

For the blind... (3, Informative)

ndogg (158021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951267)

There is BLinux [leb.net] .

Re:For the blind... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951289)

There is BLinux.

There is also Oralux [oralux.org]

Wrong expectations (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951269)

Free software is written according to developer's personal needs and interests. If I have a blind friend, I might try to test my Internet radio recorder with his/her screen reader. If not, oh well, I barely have time to finish a graphics-only, English-only version anyway. Given that disabled people have limited potential to be developers or to be rich enough to justify commercial support in most software*, the best bet would be government grants or charitable contributions of development money/personal time. It's unlikely that most FOSS can be made accessible, only a few "key" projects like Firefox and Open Office.

* This is not to reflect on their intelligence or discount exceptional cases, but you know it's just harder for these folks to do things.

Blind computer scientist. (2, Interesting)

hpcanswers (960441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951300)

One of the Rhodes Scholars I knew back in my PhD program is blind. He was one of our best numerical analyst and could code in C or MATLAB as well as anyone else. He had a device that he connected to his computer that would scan whatever line the cursor was on and then raise some pins to form Braille. To read math books, he would request the LaTeX source from the publisher. He made all of his graphs in GNUPlot. He could even scan a page from a note and have OCR translate it to ASCII. He had no trouble getting his work done.

Re:Blind computer scientist. (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951595)

Only math books would work like that. Do you think J.R.R. used LaTeX? Thanks to the real men use text editors and then a processor tradition a blind person can use most math tools. But the article is about GUI programs needing a better interface to blind people. More and more, FOSS is moving away from text-to-text, text-to-stuff tools to everything you need. Not like Xemacs, which a blind person could use if they remembered the key commands and had a screenreader, but like Eclipse. Good luck using that.

N.B. I am not blind.

Re:Blind computer scientist. (2, Informative)

penix1 (722987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951684)

Accessability in Linux GUI has come a long way with projects like ksayit [kde-apps.org] and a whole list of others....The fact is, if you are blind a GUI is kind of pointless (pun intended). As others have pointed out, there are Linux solutions for the blind such as blinux. At least in Linux there is always CLI which tends to lend itself to screen readers a whole lot better than any proprietary GUI based solution I have seen.

B.

N.B. I am also not blind but have setup a box for a blind girl in our neck of the woods. Nothing stranger than a system WITHOUT a monitor.

B.

Re:Blind computer scientist. (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951697)

So,

does anyone know of any text only office suites that support ODF?

all the best,

drew

Horrid Program Design Protects MS (again!) (2, Interesting)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951324)

The reaction that I'm seeing from the Disabled community is similar to that of sighted people who use MS products....
Getting to learn how to use this was so horrid, I don't want to go through that again!
Open Source may, ultimately, provide more freedom for disabled users, but in the meantime they've been scarred by how horrid the Microsoft solution has been.

The Open Source solution framework is, by all appearances, going to be a far better, overall, experience for blind users -- but it's going to take some time to ramp up to the point where it's operationally better than (or even equivalent to), the current solution that third-party providers have managed to back-hack onto Office.

In the meantime, it's going to take some work to convince these people that there's some long term value to helping the FOSS community get up to speed.

Re:Horrid Program Design Protects MS (again!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951499)

"In the meantime, it's going to take some work to convince these people that there's some long term value to helping the FOSS community get up to speed."

Yep, and the best way to make that case is by making some of the software actually useful for them. They won't be reading these arguments on slashdot.

Re:Horrid Program Design Protects MS (again!) (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951709)

So,

how about angles to force ODF support in MS Office in the meantime?

Does the blind community already have the laws on their side needed to do this?

1. State requires open document formats for the benefit of all citizens.

2. Copyrights and patents are state granted. (State as in The State not as in a state.)

3. You support open document standards as per the state requirements or you lose your copyrights and patents used in the programs that could support those formats and wont.

4. Note, when wordperfect was the big boy on the block, MS did not seem to have to big an issue with supporting wordperfect documents.

all the best,

drew

huh? (3, Insightful)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951331)

The most urgent task is to improve documentation.

Not for me it isn't. "Open Source" does not mean "good works for charity".

guidelines are the key (1)

Marsmensch (870400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951382)

What I would suggest is for a set of guidelines to be drawn up which would insure that a given program is usable by at least the most common disabilities. This would make it easier on people who want to make their software "disabled friendly".

Such documents already exist for both web designers and architects, so why not software designers?

...and standardization (2, Informative)

StandardsSchmandards (828326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951454)

Guidelines exist for software as well but are rarely used for some reason. A few examples that would help all users:

I believe that following these and other specifications would make life much better for all users. These guidelines will make sure your software works with most assistive technologies as well.

There are also a lot of open source developer tools to help you test your applications. E.g.:

Coding without seeing the screen (2, Informative)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951434)

"Kenneth is working as an intern here at Microsoft for the summer on the Office team as a tester. He uses Visual Studio to find bugs (and to code on his own time). He writes emails in Outlook. Does all the usual stuff that most developers or testers at Microsoft do. With one difference.

He can't see the screen because he's been blind since he was three years old."(Source [msdn.com] )

Check out the video at channel9 (click the source link above). There's especially one really good question/answer combo in there, I'll transcript it:

[ Start: 08:50 ] Interviewer: How could the software be improved for you? What would you tell the Visual Studio team, for instance, to do to make the software better.

Kenneth: Visual Studio has been very difficult for me to learn with JAWS. JAWS company itself does not specifically support Visual Studio as of now. And they're really working hard on adding the support to the JAWS software. So I think as of now that's the main thing that's holding back the accessibility levels, that JAWS itself hasn't really fully incorporated it. But I think Visual Studio relies very heavily on colored text, for symbolizing things. So rather than having the text that's related to one thing versus another isolated in different locations on the screen, they're all in a list and the different categories are symbolized for different text colors and background colors. I think that makes it a little bit difficult to sort things out on the screen with a screen reader.

So that would be one thing I could suggest, but I think we're primarily waiting on JAWS. [...] As long as they're continually aware of the accessibility levels of their software and test them for that aspect of the usability. Then I think it'll continue to be usable, as long as the specialized software such as JAWS evolves along with it. And so I think that they're working hard at companies like JAWS and their competitors to stay current. And sometimes they fall behind, and I think for specialized programs like software development that aren't as common as say Word processors that sometimes are not as up to date. [ End: 11:12 ]

define: JAWS
"JAWS (an acronym for Job Access With Speech) is a screen reader for the visually impaired." (Source [wikipedia.org] )

Issues with Moodle (2, Informative)

thingie (16450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951435)

Talking to Niall Sclater [sclater.com] , Virtual Learning Environment Programme Director at The Open University [open.ac.uk] on what they're having to do to Moodle [moodle.org] to bring it up to scratch for their large community of blind users was very interesting. The OU have 100,000 students, 10,000 of them with a registered disability, basically they're have to completely redo the accessibility of Moodle.

There was, however, no suggestion that any of the alternatives, commerical or open source were any better.

cheers, thingie

If you're interested in hearing Niall speak on such issues, or have a pointed question to ask him, why not register for our up-coming Open Source and Sustainability 2006 [oss-watch.ac.uk] conference

One step forward two backwards (2, Informative)

accessbob (962147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951519)

The disabled users in Massachusetts do have a point:

  • Most existing Assistive Technology (AT) is geard towards Windows.
  • AT training is geard towards Windows and Windows applications.
  • Formal evaluation of special needs tends to be geared towards using Windows and Windows applications.
  • Disability legisation has made commercial developers (especially MS) at least consider accessibilty.

I'm not saying that is right or wrong, but that is where we are. If you force a switch to other platforms and applications, you do need to ensure that at least the current (and pretty awful) level of accessibility is maintained. And that's not just developing accessible FOSS applications, but providing training and support to the users, including the special needs evaluators & trainers. It's not a trivial task.

My own PhD research into improving the accessibility of mass-produced mobile devices (phones, pda's, psp's etc) is based on open and international standards. All work products (as far as my university allows) will be released under the GPL or eqivalent. So I'm not anti-FOSS at all, but one step forward and two backwards isn't progress. Unless it's managed properly, switching platforms and applications (to FOSS based ones, or to any others) can cause real problems for disabled users.

I make transcripts for this reason (1)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951610)

I've made transcripts of previous events I've organised [www.ifso.ie] so that deaf users can benefit. Having a sign language interpreter would be great, but the budget is usually not there.

Fixing the wrong problem.. (2, Interesting)

Ian_FBNS (925135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951611)

Wouldn't the effort be better spent trying to fix the actual disability in the first place? We spend a frighteningly small amount on fundamental research, and it seems that almost every development comes up against the "moral" luddites who don't want any kind of medical breakthrough in case it offends their religion. *sigh*

Crock o' Shit (4, Informative)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951627)

It's just another thing being worked on. It's not a case of being out of touch, as clearly there are several tools, mostly aimed at the visually impaired, which is what they really mean by disabled.
  • Even Slackware gives the option to install a speakup kernel.
  • KDE has text-to-speech, though only the frontend in earlier versions.
  • KDE also enables you to resize the screen easily, helping those with less severe vision problems.
  • Check this out [sourceforge.net]
Nothing in FOSS can be taken and presented as An Official Display of How Good It Is And Always Shall Be. Most things are work in progress.

If there's a lack of communication, it's the fault of the disabled community. Or are FOSS developers to spend their time researching potential user groups' needs instead of coding? I imagine that disabled rights groups have already provided the necessary information, and are just waiting for the tools to appear, because from what little I've seen, they're very good at doing their part. If they haven't done that yet, tough luck. Unless they want some sighted programmer to just guess?

Another thing I didn't like about this article was its use of the phrase "disabled people". It's about THE BLIND, so just say THE BLIND. Deaf people don't have any fixable problems with computers unless some idiot decides to make their program depend on sound feedback. There's little we can do to enable a dumb person to use VOIP, short of recognising their speech and converting it to text. Reduced mobility users need to complain to their hardware vendors if there are no Linux drivers for their single-handed keyboards or whatever they may need. They are working on blind access. Work is slow because FOSS runs on itch scratching. People make software that they want. Companies work on software that they use.

I really want blind users to be able to have their needs catered for. I don't want them to need to send letters saying things like "Do you know that choosing Linux means excluding blind users?". But as in everything else, steps are being made. Unfortunately, it's quite a long journey:

he has not found "a distribution that boots" and detects "Italian speech synthesizers, or Braille terminals with the brltty driver."

The State (1)

awol (98751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951633)

Hmmmm, let me see... A small (but not trivial) sector of the community with too few resources to achieve something that many of them need, that the majority of society takes for granted and without which they are inreasing disenfranchised from the good life. Things that they probably have a right to access in a "modern" society. Sounds like a classic job for "The State".

Given than the the Free Software would be accessible for all future members of the state it is a classical "good" spend of State Funds for prosperity. The argument is strengthed by the idea that we are all made better off by the quiality of life of our most vulnerable (probably not the right word) members of society.

More Junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951643)

heh, a singular something that fits like a glove, adjusts to the persons physical capacity, does voice sight and sound. Getting a new person walking should take no more then thirty seconds. Hopefully, they'll be warned about stuff like "you should call the doctor if you have an erection for over four hours" or "how to properly be arrested".

"Always ask yourself what your product might look like in twenty years"

Yet another reason for web standards (4, Interesting)

leoboiko (462141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951647)

This is an additional reason to learn proper (X)HTML, CSS et al. They have very interesting accessibility features [atomz.com] which cannot be matched by ad-hoc MSIE HTML.

BTW, while I'm evangelizing standards, every web developer, *especially* framework developers (Rails guys, I'm looking at you), should be required by law to read the damn HTTP RFC. Content-negotiation is so underrated; it could be very useful for accessibility. HTTP rulez [naeblis.cx] , it's a shame that so few reconize it.

Programming for the Blind (5, Interesting)

mkeller (80035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951654)

Until I witnessed a 100% blind person using a computer, my
understanding of the problem was very flawed. With the
monitor turned off he could browse web sites, read/write
email, and puzzle through popup error messages. He used
a text to speech software package that read to him faster
than I could listen. The package also provided an interface
for configuring a huge number of custom hotkeys which he
programmed and used extensively. The way his brain adapted to a
sound based interface was amazing. I've never seen anything
like it.

So what's missing? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951705)

Could someone please enumerate the types of tool required for each kind of disability? Perhaps some tools already exist and we can match needs with solutions. If not, then at least we have an idea of the types of things we should be looking into to address this.
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