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Accessibility lock-in and GNOME was [Fwd: Re: [Fsfe-uk] OOo accessibilit

From: Simon Waters
Subject: Accessibility lock-in and GNOME was [Fwd: Re: [Fsfe-uk] OOo accessibility]
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2006 17:38:18 +0000
User-agent: Debian Thunderbird 1.0.7 (X11/20051017)

Oops managed to post direct to Alex by mistake.
Back at the sanity of home found the link -- MP3 not an OGG.



Alex Hudson wrote:
> I think these users are even more locked in than the average user.

I came across a good interview with the guy who does the GNOME
acessibility stuff (for SUN Micrososystems?). Its on an OGG file
somewhere I'm sure.

Basically he explains that because Microsoft Windows lacks an
accessibility framework, most people with very severe visual impairment
use the JAWS screen reader.

This screen reader basically needs plugins for every application it is
to work with, reworked in every language, etc. So a monumental task to
maintain, and thus this very expensive software. Hence why if they have
a word processor document they want it in a format that they have a
screen reader module for, or a format that word processor can import.
Presumably formats importable by Word would do, plus or minus whatever
is lost in the conversion.

GNOME on the other hand has a pretty together accessibility framework,
so that you get JAWS like screen reading out of most GNOME applications
for "free" (read that as you will ;-).

However I have to say enabling GNOME accessibility stuff in GNOME, and
getting it to work "just so", took me a couple of days (and I can see).
Even then I felt I could do with a tutorial/training course on how to
use it effectively.

The results were mixed, the GNOME text editor worked well, web surfing I
was less impressed with. But I think it is very hard for the sighted to
compare, when we did an accessibility project here with JAWS our
(sighted) test guy kept ripping the headphone off in a need to escape
from the  babbling of the artificial voice. Amazing what you can learn
to tolerate if it makes you independent again.

I don't know how OpenOffice does, I stuck to GNOME application, finding
stuff outside of GNOME was generally rather quiet. However you might be
quite impressed how well GNOME compares with proprietary offers at many
hundreds of pounds plus.

On the other hand I come across quite a few blind users, who just dump
the GUI entirely, and opt for screen readers, and consoles. They tend to
want the "speakup" patch in the default kernel of their Linux distro, so
they can do their own installs, and just go their own way. Of course
these may be the "geeks" of the visually impaired world, but the
Windows/Pointer interface doesn't really offer these guys anything but
confusion created by badly done pop-up dialogues, and random words as
their mouse scrolls over something.

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