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[Fsfe-uk] OOo accessibility

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] OOo accessibility
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2006 11:54:29 +0000

On Fri, 2006-03-17 at 11:45 +0000, Adam Moran wrote:
> One thing I remember is that he's seeking help making OO accessible.

That's a really major point, but probably not something that Les Timms
is able to influence directly too much.

The OpenDocument TC have started looking really seriously at
accessibility in the file format, and I do hope for some good things
coming out of them. But, I think people don't understand quite what a
mountain there is to climb.

Recently, as part of a web project for a client, we had to add a series
of Word documents into the website to fulfil accessibility requirements:
while there are lots of technical standards that have been designed with
accessibility in mind, the practise is completely different. In
particular, we had visually impaired businesspeople who needed to access
these long texts, and their strong preference was for something they
could access in Word.

I think these users are even more locked in than the average user. I
can't comprehend what it must be like to not have important faculties
like vision. I get the strong impression that the tools in use by most
of these users are incredibly specialised, and they need them to be
excellent. They have a great environment available in Word, and so they
use that environment to do as much work as possible - as the saying
goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I suspect strongly that free software is great for people who have
difficulty with data input/control. I suspect we suck in varying amounts
for those who have difficulty seeing*. I would be interested in hearing
other people's experiences in this area. 



* As an aside, I had been trapped by an accessibility function for weeks
now - Evolution's "caret" mode, designed for screen readers I believe,
was switched on without me realising it, and made Evo a pain to use
(replying to email, in particular, was tough, because putting focus on
the mail window brought up the caret which effectively created an empty
selection; replying to the mail then brought up an attribution line but
no quote of the original, most annoying). It was only when I came to
file the bug that I realised it was a "feature". I do feel for people
who have to have caret turned on in order to be able to use the app :(

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