Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Open Source Operating Systems Software Linux

Accessibility In Linux Is Good (But Could Be Much Better) 65

An anonymous reader sends this report from opensource.com: GNU/Linux distributions provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities. All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it, and cost nothing. Hardware devices, of course, are still going to cost money. Additionally, accessibility software on other platforms generally contain licensing constraints on the user. ... When it comes to accessibility, Linux is not without issues. ... The number of developers who specifically work on accessibility tools is quite small. For example, there is only one Orca developer, two AT-SPI developers, and a single GTK developer. ... Developers who do not depend on assistive technologies tend to forget—or don't know—that a disabled person might want to use their application, read their web page, and so on. ... The problem is not necessarily that developers do not care. Rather, it's is that accessibility is highly specialized and requires someone with knowledge in the area, regardless of platform.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Accessibility In Linux Is Good (But Could Be Much Better)

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    why not?
    for the sake of children and disabled

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Are you saying to integrate systemd into the disabled people? Wouldn't that just make them even more disabled?

  • The reality is, most developers have a fixed and small amount of time to develop product. They aren't going to work on features for 2% of people when features that 50% of people can use need work.
    • However, the adoption of Linux within workplaces can certainly be constrained by, for example, ADA requirements. The lack of proper accessibility may ultimately prevent certain businesses or organizations from implementing Linux when it would otherwise be most preferable, simply because it does not satisfy their need for compliance. I'm sure you can see the potential ripple effects from that kind of restriction and how it might impact even those developers who do take accessibility needs into consideration.
      • Well if those businesses can't use Linux because some feature isn't available, then they should hire developers to create that feature. Or stick with Windows. They need to figure out which will cost them less. They shouldn't need to lean on other developers to do their work for them. Worst case, they can create their own GUI that will meet whatever needs they have. Developers will do the work that makes their work usable for the most people. The big picture you talk about seems to be your point of vi
        • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

          I could buy a copy of Windows for about $200 (retail). Since I pay my developers about $100 an hour, that means if they can't outfit the entire OS and window manager with basic accessibility functionality, then the choice is pretty easy. Even if I had to buy 100 copies of Windows at retail ($20,000), I'm sure I couldn't hire a dev to touch that many projects, considering the 100's of different communities, different programming styles, different languages and different systems. This is not just 1 app tha

        • What should really happen is that a company like Red Hat which sells to business should pay its own developers to improve accessibility.

        • Re:Bigger picture (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TraumaFox ( 1667643 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @03:05PM (#49614553)

          Trying to apply the usual "do it yourself" attitude is probably why accessibility is a problem in the first place, especially since we're talking about a portion of users who legitimately can't do it for themselves. Programming for accessibility takes particular expertise and paying careful attention to the requirements I mentioned before. On top of that, if different developers and communities go off and do their own thing without striving for any real standards beyond the bare minimum requirements, it would surely be a nightmare for users who do need those features to go from one program to the next.

          I certainly get that developers have limits, but putting accessibility features on the same chopping block as anything else based on user percentages is very short-sighted and the kind of cold, corporate-like response one might expect from Microsoft or Apple (ironic, then, that they readily provide those features). I'd hate to be the director who has to tell a vision-impaired user she isn't important enough or that there aren't enough of her kind to waste time and resources catering to.

    • The reality is, most OSS developers aren't making a product.

      They're working with a piece of software as a hobby. If it was a product you'd likely be legally required to implement these features.

      Which is one of the many many reasons OSS doesn't always get taken seriously in business -- because the attitude of "just RTFM", or "figure it out for yourself" generally means "some guy bodged together something and can't understand why you won't give up commercially supported software to use it".

      As long as the att

      • Actually, your view is a bit dated, as 80 percent of Linux contributions are paid by corporations [infoworld.com]. The days of Linux being a hobbyist product are long behind us.

        • Fine, you have given a statistic on the Linux Kernel.

          Now, show me a stat for "most OSS developers" across not just the Linux kernel. And then we're probably back to what I said in the first place.

          Because, you'll notice, I never said Linux. I said OSS. My view isn't dated, yours is incomplete.

          And there's a crapton more OSS code on the interwebs than just the Linux kernel. It may not be as influential, but it is far more plentiful.

          And it's definitely not "product", it's "hobby".

  • by quetwo ( 1203948 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @01:15PM (#49613277) Homepage

    Just because it's open source doesn't mean it's great. I'd classify accessibility for blind/less sighted users to be non-existent (with the exception of a few applications). Every iteration of X Windows since X11 has been worse and worse with its implementation, and if things go wrong it is nearly impossible to get around. A few applications that implement the full GTK stack /properly/ are passable, but those that use Gnome's or KDE's tools don't pass text back to a speech engine at all.

    Console is fine, but as soon as you try and use a tool that uses ncurses or any other menuing application you are SOL.

    Firefox hasn't worked well with a screen reader in about 5 years. Never was able to get Chrome fully installed.

    • by AqD ( 1885732 )

      Because it's pointless? What's the user base of Linux desktop? Retired grandpas and blind persons surfing website or deaf persons making music?

      The biggest problem with Linux desktop systems is that those developers either don't care or get confused about what their user bases are. Accessibility would make no sense at all to grid administrators, 3D graphics makers or programmers.

      • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

        So, you are saying that if you are blind or have partial sight there is no point in you ever being a programmer, maker or grid admin?

        While I'm lucky to have most of my sight (I'm only blind in one eye), some of my good friends are completely blind. One is a system admin and is a very functional member of society. He admins a few dozen Linux servers but is completely unable to use Linux as a desktop.

        But accessibility is not just about the blind or deaf. It also includes color blindness, those who are unab

  • I read both his articles, and they're actually about "which development environment for disabled users is more open-source friendly." What the fuck? Obviously, Linux is going to be, so what? And there isn't a single word about which is actually better for disabled people to use, so provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities is an inaccurate way to summarize the article. Instead, it's some guy blindly pursuing some nerdy "open source is the best!" dialogue like i

    • >> Instead, it's some guy blindly pursuing some nerdy "open source is the best!" dialogue like it was 2003.

      Duh - the author's disabled. It's taken him 12 years just to resolve the driver issues on his adaptive devices to write and submit the article from his Linux desktop.

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @01:58PM (#49613789)

      Also, from the article:

      Unlike proprietary alternatives, Fedora (and other Linux distros with the Gnome desktop) includes accessibility tools out of the box, such as:

              Screen reader: A text-to-speech system to read what's on the screen
              Magnifier: Helps users with visual impairments who need larger text and images
              High-contrast mode: Helps users who have trouble seeing text unless contrast is corrected, such as white text on a black background, or vice versa
              Mouse keys: Controls the mouse using the number pad
              Sticky keys: Helps users who have trouble pressing multiple keys at once, and users who have use of only one hand
              Bounce keys: To ignore rapidly pressed keys or if a key is accidentally held down
              On screen keyboard: Helps users who cannot type at all, but who can use a mouse
              Visual alerts: Replace system sounds with visual cues

      Um... unlike what proprietary systems? He surely can't be talking about Windows, because it has every single one of these features, and has had most of them since Windows 95 two decades ago!

      It's great that Linux/Gnome now also includes these features, but the author doesn't really help his cause by misrepresenting (I'm being kind in my choice of words here) the competition's features.

      • It's pretty damn hilarious that he's saying Linux is exclusively features terms that were coined by Windows. Hell, some of those might even be trademarked by Microsoft.

        "Linux is pretty great for it's pioneering work in the StickyKeys, ClearType, and Windows Class Foundation. None of which are available on Windows."
  • How accessible is the best open source dev suite?

    "All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it"

    This "it's better because you can fix it yourself" is usually pretty dubious. In this case, it's worthless unless the folks who need the accessibility can work on it. What's the most accessible dev environment? Are its accessibility features usable? Does it support all developing all the tools that need improvement?

  • GNU/Linux distributions provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities. All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it, and cost nothing.

    Because disabled people are so looking for a DIY solution. I'll give you the one about cost, but aids for the disabled are usually sold or given away far under their actual cost due to ideal organizations, corporate PR, government aid and so on unless you're making a business specifically for the disabled.

    Developers who do not depend on assistive technologies tend to forget - or don't know - that a disabled person might want to use their application, read their web page, and so on. ... The problem is not necessarily that developers do not care.

    Oh please, the open source community is 95% driven by scratching your own itch. Very few do any real effort to make it easier for other people to use in general, disabled or not. Which of course doesn't me

    • I'm a disabled person.

      Everyone can calm down. All you have to do is these three things:

      - Make sure your keys can be reconfigurable,
      - Your GUI interfaces can be resizable.
      - When someone mentions their specific condition in regard to your specific project, give them a minute of your time and see if you can help. (No pressure if you can't.)

      That's about all you can ask of a developer, and the situation is pretty good for all of the major operating systems. You don't have to worry, we're not all bitt
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @02:36PM (#49614261)
    I can't speak for OSX. But it is hard to take seriously a post that ignores the accessibility tools that have been baked into the Windows OS from the beginning, expanded and improved over the years.

    Unlike proprietary alternatives...Linux distros with the Gnome desktop...includes accessibility tools out of the box, such as:

    Screen reader A text-to-speech system to read what's on the screen
    Magnifier Helps users with visual impairments who need larger text and images
    High-contrast mode Helps users who have trouble seeing text unless contrast is corrected, such as white text on a black background, or vice versa
    Mouse keys Controls the mouse using the number pad
    Sticky keys Helps users who have trouble pressing multiple keys at once, and users who have use of only one hand
    Bounce keys To ignore rapidly pressed keys or if a key is accidentally held down
    On screen keyboard Helps users who cannot type at all, but who can use a mouse Visual alerts Replace system sounds with visual cues

    Accessibility in Linux is good (but could be much better) [opensource.com]

    Compare:

    While this article is aimed at Windows 95 much of the information on Accessibility Options also applies to Windows 3.x and Windows 98.

    Making Windows 95 Accessible [strokesupport.com]

    • OSX also had accessibility support built in from the beginning. Apple made it a big deal that every computer should be installed with it by default, because it used to be the case in Windows that you had to install support manually, and only one computer in a classroom in the corner would have support. The idea was any child should be able to use any computer.

      OSX has been generally good for accessibility for a second reason. Besides user-facing features, Apple's core APIs like Cocoa have accessibility built

  • "Select the following link to learn more about the Philadelphia Computer Users’ Group for the Blind and Visually Impaired" ref [wordpress.com]

Quark! Quark! Beware the quantum duck!

Working...