[u-a-dev] Plan for improving the boot up experience for persons with disabilities

Paul Hunt huntp at ukonline.co.uk
Thu Aug 19 16:17:36 BST 2010

Hello list,

Further to the meeting of the Ubuntu accessibility team on August 18 2010;

I would like to begin a discussion on how we might improve the
experience of people with disabilities when they try to use the live CD
to either start a live desktop or perform an install with assistive
technologies enabled.

Currently if a user wishes to enable any assistive technologies such as
the Orca screen reader, they must hit a key at a specific point during
the boot process to get to the legacy boot menu.

They then must select their preferred option and start the boot process
with no audible feedback from their computer at all.

If the user has no useful vision this is extremely tricky as the exact
time at which to hit a key depends entirely on your hardware - CD drive
speed etc., and they have no way of knowing if they were successful
until either the machine comes up with their desired technology active
or they give up and power off

The current Ubuntu CD (lucid Lynx) doesn't stop and wait for any user
interaction until it reaches a new graphical 'language and boot or
install' options screen.

I would like to try and come up with a solution that would eliminate the
need for any guesswork as to when to hit keys, and that would provide
feedback to the user at all stages and enable them to select an
assistive technology to use, in a way that is none intrusive to people
who don't need such things.

As we discussed in the meeting, we propose to first design a solution
and then test it in Vinux before proposing it to be adopted by the
mainstream Ubuntu project.

Are the Vinux developers on this list?

I would like to hear suggestions and potential problems that people can
think of, both technical and none technical with regards to this.

It would be great if we could come up with a solution that emulated the
Apple Mac's operating system which allows a user to perform a key
combination at any point (including the first screen that appears when
you boot for the first time) and activate an assistive technology.


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