[xgl-mag] XGL/compiz screen magnifier planning

James King j4415king at earthlink.net
Mon May 15 12:12:57 BST 2006

Hi  Members of the AT List:

I've been unable to comment further on Dapper LiveCD for a while because of
medical, work, and other problems that forced me to continue usiing Windows
XP, ZoomText, and Dragon Naturally Speaking rather than continue trying to
complete my dual-boot intall of Dapper by solvinig the Internet connectiion
problems -- because I couln't until yesterday find the special preferences
dialog for configuring the Gnopernicus Magnifier until I was able -- almost
accidentally -- to use Gnopericus' Screenreader to read the Help file that
let me know that there is a special separate dialog for Magnifier
preferenes and how to get to it.  Up until yesterday, i couldn't see well
enought to find out how to move the Magnifier from its initial position
attached to the middle of the top of the desktop where it blocked all other
dialogs that were large enough to be read with the standard cursor using
Screenreader with the High-Contrast Big Print Enverted Theme turned on and
the Theme's Recommended Font turned on.  (I mentioned in one of my previous
letters how long it took to find the Recommended Font checkbox without any
magnifier, since my visual fields are so damaged by glaucoma that I
completely missed the checkbox.)

The above story is the context for my comments on the following features
lists in Henrik's email on the Subject of magnifier planniing:  I shall put
"JK:" at the beginning of my comments below.  The excerpts from his
original are indicated by all the lines beginning with right-arrow symbols.

> [Original Message]
> From: Henrik Nilsen Omma <henrik at ubuntu.com>
> To: Ubuntu Accessibility Mailing List
<ubuntu-accessibility at lists.ubuntu.com>
> Date: 5/9/2006 6:37:39 PM
> Subject: [xgl-mag] XGL/compiz screen magnifier planning
> The must-have features:
>  * Fixed zoom factors - This could be pre-set by the user, but it should 
> also be possible to switch zoom levels on the fly with a hotkey
>  * Ability to follow the text-entry cursor - This requires AT-SPI magic, 
> but is a vital feature.
>  * Configurability - As many settings as possible should be configurable 
> by the user (but it can be a simple config file to start with).
JK:  These "must-have" priorites sound good to me, especially the
"Configurability of settings."  I need the "Giant Green" cursor-pointer
that in ZoomText versions 7.0-8.0 (and 9.0 probably) changes from
approximately 1.0x1.5 inches in size at 2X magnification to 4x6 inches as
the focus changes from 2X to 8X.  [I have to use10X-16X to read dialogs
with blue or black text on white or other light/bright backgrounds. (I
can't read anything on the 3-D objects in the panels in the Knoppix LiveCD
because they are all too bright, no matter how large I magnify them.)]  

I have to change the magnificaiton levels either by the wheel mouse or by
voice macros that I have created in Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional
Edition.  Keyboard shortcuts are too difficult for me to use without making
disasterous mistakes.  So I need as much configurabilty as possible.   

I want to move "Interaction with screenreadder and Braille systesm":into
the above "must-have" list from the following "desirable features" list.

> Some desirable features:
>  * Variable zoom factor - Fixed factors may not be exactly want you 
> want. It would be cool to be able to adjust the zoom level precisely 
> with the mouse wheel, say.
>  * Scriptability - Again Orca has shown that being able to tailor the 
> behaviour of the AT app to your working application can be very useful. 
> This might well apply to the magnifier as well.
>  * Fit window to zoom area - If you are working in Gedit and you have 
> zoomed in to a comfortable level, you now want to make sure that the 
> whole window fits into the viewable area. You then press a hot key and 
> Gedit's window is resized so that it fits.
>  * Jumping between window sections - If you zoom to a fixed level of 3x 
> you then have in a sense 9 sections on the screen. You could float 
> around the desktop with the mouse, but there might be cases where you 
> want to know exactly where you are. On Gnome you can switch between 
> desktops with the Hotkeys Ctr-Alt-Right/Left/Up/Down. We could do the 
> same with zoomed sections.
>  * Interaction with screen readers and braille systems - This adds 
> another level of complexity but could potentially be extremely powerful. 
> You could browse at a moderate zoom level and then have sections of text 
> read out to you.
JK:  As you can see from my personal story, Interaction of Mag with
Screenreader and Braille should be in the top-priority list of needed
featurres for me.  Even the current purely "trackless" access to
Screenreader finally allowed me to find Magnifier's controls.  This
illustrates how important it is to define in big prinit (white on black) a
clear track from the Ubuntu splash screen w the function keys all the way
to the Gnopernicus Magnifier controls -- through the High-Contrast Big
Print Inverted There with its biggest font automatically turned on.

Of course, tightening up Screenreader so that it works on every screen and
in every panel and file folder would help.  It's a good job so far, but
there seemed to be some paragraphs and headings that it woldn't speak to
me.  Unfortunately, I was so desperate to be able to get a usable magnifier
that I did not make notes of these apparent exceptions to its generally
good performance.

> Let's look at some use cases to get an idea of the kind of features we 
> need to provide:

JK:  Henrik's following two "use cases" are well-chosen as models; both are
essential, but the second (composition using Open Office) is more important
for me and, I suspect, for many other people than the first (newspaper
reading and Internet research).  I believe that many other handicapped
people may have other technology to help them read newspapers books, etc., 
but now they have on only Microsoft and Apple to help them compose their
work materials.  (I use a VideoEye for reading everything, and an Enhanced
Vision Max Magnifier han-held CCTV piped into my computer via a WinTV 2000
USB connecer) to read books.  But without Windows 3.1, 95, 98, .., XP I
couldn't have done any work over the past 15 years.)

Of course, I realize that Ubuntus' commitment to helping disabled people in
all situations must assume that most will not have any Accessiblitly Tech
other than an old computer.  So I agree that the first case (newspaper
reading) is essential as the other top-priority model.  In the future where
all software and services will come first from the Internet and other
electronic networks in the same way that Ubuntu itself comes to us, reading
communications from remote sites will probably be even more
life-determining and irreplaceable than it is now.

> Use case - Reading a news website:
> Take this news page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4752819.stm
> It has some text and pictures and a great deal of non-essential 
> navigation items (most other newspapers are worse). For the sake of 
> example, let's consider a user who might use 2x zoom to get a general 
> overview of a desktop of webpage layout but would need 8x zoom on normal 
> text to read it.
> It would be useful to be able to zoom in on the different elements 
> separately. Imagine that you could select the picture first. Press some 
> hotkey to skip to the picture, and have the picture by itself displayed 
> at 8x zoom where you can pan around. Another keystroke would give you 
> the caption overlayed at the bottom of the picture in a high contrast 
> colour or it could be read out via the screen reader.
> You then want to move on to the main body text. You return to the 2x 
> overview page. You press another hot key to highlight some text. The 
> first block of text appears with a heavy bright red (customisable of 
> course) frame around it or with a full rectangle at 50% opacity so you 
> can pick out the block you want. the next hotkey or mouse command would 
> then zoom that text up to 8x, filling most of the screen. It would be 
> wrapped to fit nicely and could be scrolled if needed. It would be as if 
> you selected the text, copied and pasted it into a special app that 
> would magnify it to your liking or read it out if you preferred. You 
> could also select your own fonts.
> Use case - Document composition:
> In using a word processor like OpenOffice you can set the font size very 
> large or the zoom to a high factor in OpenOffice itself, which might be 
> sufficient to read the text. However there are several problems:
>  * The text entry cursor is narrow and difficult to spot
>  * The toolbar buttons, slider widgets, etc. are small and in low 
> contrast grey tones
>  * The menubar menus and context menus are small
> You could go for a large high-contrast theme, but in fact you might 
> prefer to keep the buttons and widgets small so they don't take up too 
> much space and distract from the text you are working on.
> Solution: You should be able to hover over the toolbar and have the 
> buttons zoomed by 8x and the contrast enhanced. You move the mouse over 
> to the right and the scrolling widget grows a large handle in high 
> contrast that you can easily grab and scroll. The context menus also 
> appear zoomed.

JK:  I agree with Henrik's proposed solution to the problem of keeping the
3-D objects (with the menus, status bars, etc.) the same size while zooming
in and out on the written text, calculation cell, database line, etc. in
the Open Office productivity applicaitons.  Generally, I use the zoom
feature from the mouse rather than changing to a new theme.  So making this
easy with configurability by mouse (with at most, cntrl, alt, and shift key
combinations.  His hover feature solution -- should be very helpful, and I
believe that it would have saved me some of the time that I had to give to
customizing separate themes.

Still, one reason I keep harping on finding some analog to Dragon Naturally
Speaking Professional's voice macros is that the voice macro feature can be
used to control not only Gnopernicus' Magnifier and Scroonreader
configuration changes but also theme changes.  It is very important for me
to be able to say "Display Colors" and have the Giant Green pointer move
out of the Microsoft Office applicaiton in which I'm working to the
desktop, open the desktop menu, select "Properties," move to the Display
Properties dialog after it opens, move to the drop-down list box for
Themes, and wait for me to say move down four, or up two, or whatever, to
choose a completely different theme whenever I want the 3-D objects on the
desktop and in the applications to change size, colors, or components, such
as the menus bar and format bar but not the tool-icon bar.  

Being able to do all this compleely and automatically with one voice
command saves a lot of time and eyestrain as I deal with installing,
configuraing, and using software from sources on the Internet and reatail
stores is very important for me.  I think that other challenged users will
also greatly benefit from anything you all can do equal to -- or short of
-- full voice macros to help the user automate control of configurability
settings will save a lot of people a lot of eyestrain and a lot of visual

The "Examples" icon on the Gnome desktop was a gateway that was very useful
to me when I was totally stuck because I couldn't find a magnifier good
enought to tell me how to get to Gnopernicus.  If you all can't at any time
soon find a way to put a "Highly Visualy Impaired" track under the F5 key,
to go along with the "Moderately ...," "Blind," etc. tracks, it would be
worthwhile -- and probably easier to put a "Highly Visually Impaired" page
in the group of files accessed through the "Examples\" icon.  It should
have a step-by-step track from the desktop through: (1) turning on the
right high-contrast theme for the various visual conditions that require a
dark background, a light-bright background, or a moderate background -- all
with the largest font (up to 32 poits at least) TURNED ON ; (2) turning on
Screereader with its maximum number of concurrent functions, and (3)
turning on the Gnopernicus Magnifier so that it takes up the right half of
the screen and allows visual reading of the overall Help Index screens with
a very large cursor and very large (32 points at least) fonts.

I know that much of what I have said above may already have been considered
and resolved, and that my particular set of disabilities is only one among
the many sets that the system you are designing will try to help.  I really
do appreciate your efforts and your willingness to read what a complete
non-programmer and newbie to Ubuntu and Linux has experienced.  The fact
that you are open, trying, and succeeding at this work is more encouraging
to me than anything I have ever met inthe Microsoft-dominated world since
1982  I wish I could help you solve these problems, but all I can do is
pose them and ask for help.

Henrik says in the following paragraph that you "have the opportunity to do
some great stuff."  I say you are already doing truly great stuff, the
installable LIveCD is already great stuff.  So is the High-ContrstBig Print
Inverted Theme.  So is the addition of the AT functioin keys to theopening
splash screen.  So is the beautiful Gnome desktop.  I'll be switching to
Ubuntu as from XP as completely as possible as fast as my disabilities

> It soon becomes apparent that this is a great deal more complicated than 
> simply providing a moveable magnification window. But then simple 
> problems are boring really :)  With the combination of the new XGL 
> technology, an experienced user group in our community and fresh 
> programming talent we have an opportunity to do some great stuff!

JK:  Finally, I would apprerciate any suggestions that any of you might
have for a disk/partition-imaging program for Linux in general -- an analog
to Symantiec's GHOST (or PowerQuest's old Drive Image)or Runtime.org's
Drive Image XML  Four-to-six times each year I have a crisis, such as a
spyware infestation, a power surge corrupting my system, or an unbootable
computer (such as in my blind partitioning while installing Dapper, as I
reported in my previous letter to Henrik). To deal with such problems
without a lot of eyestrain, since it requires re-installing and
re-configuring at a level where no magnifiers or themes are availiable, I
use Drive Image XML or GHOST, after deleting the infected partition and
reformatting with Partition Magic's Emergency Diskettes.  These programs
create, edit, and restore images that are removed ontoIomega REV cartridges
and USB hard drives.  The images are 5-15 GB when compressed, since they
contain the entire partitions in which my software "pyrameids" from the
dual-boot OSs up through ZoomText and DragonNS, to Microsoft Office or
StarOffice8 and all utilities -- and now Ubuntu -- are stored so they can
be together or separately restored without disturbing any data partitions.

Drive Image XML and CHOST do not see or manipulate Linux partions very
well.  Could any of you recommend any software that will see, create, edit,
restore, remove, and return images of both Linux and Windows (and Mac?)
partitioins safely?  Of course, I would prefer FOSS program, but I would
also like to hear about any commercial programs that you think would be
best for imaging dual-boot Linux-Microsoft systems.  Of course, I am most
interested in Ubuntu-XP dual-boot partition imaging now, but it would be
best if I could find a program that safely images all Linux and all
Microsoft (and Apple?) partitions.



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