Future of accessibility under Ubuntu

Nolan Darilek nolan at thewordnerd.info
Mon Jun 29 19:03:04 BST 2009

I have a few issues with the language here. Specifically:

On 06/29/2009 10:56 AM, Bill Cox wrote:
>    Vinux, previously based on Ubuntu, has been forced
> to switch future development to Debian branches.

No one "forced" anyone to do anything. That was a choice made by the 
Vinux developer. A choice could have easily been made to build a more 
accessible live CD, or to join the Ubuntu accessibility effort and 
contribute fixes. If there are clear instructions on how to resolve the 
Ubuntu Orca issues, as there are on the Orca wiki AFAIK, then it's 
possible to build a new live CD.

That said, I acknowledge that anyone downloading Ubuntu is likely to 
grab the official ISOs first, and I hope that 9.10 has something that 
works out of the box. Luke is working on SD to hopefully both help that 
happen and to help resolve the Bonobo deprecation issues that will 
eliminate gnome-speech. But no one forced Vinux' developer(s) to make 
the choice they did.

> There are at least a dozen major problems,
> and not all of them have work-arounds yet.

A dozen? That many? Wow, can you link me to the bug reports which the 
developers are resolving? Or, at the very least, enumerate them? I'll start.

1. Speech-dispatcher crashes. I've reported this on the SD list, as a) 
it isn't specific to Ubuntu and b) I'm running a non-standard setup. Not 
desirable, sure, but as a mid-term solution I have a hotkey to restart SD.

2. Spotty access to GUI apps running as root. Again, a known issue, and 
one that I hope will go away when the dbus at-spi changes hit.

The rest are Orca issues that I've filed, but have nothing to do with 
Ubuntu. What are the at least ten other issues you're having, and have 
they been recorded anywhere other than on blogs? Speaking as a developer 
myself, I have enough to do fixing the issues I *am* aware of that I 
don't have time to search the blogosphere for more, so unless someone 
reports something in channels I specifically watch for reports, it just 
doesn't exist for me. :)

> Clearly there was zero
> testing of Orca for 9.04.

Zero? Really? That's pretty extreme. I'll grant that it has some fairly 
large issues, and I wish these weren't, but that isn't quite as clear to me.
> I hope this is taken as a call to action.  I don't mean to offend
> anyone.
And just to be clear, I'm not offended. I, for one, am not thrilled at 
how 9.04 turned out. And, FTR, 8.10 was less accessible in some 
respects. I hope that 9.10 isn't a repeat of that, and I don't know if 
Canonical has any additional paid developers working on accessibility, 
but it might be a worthwhile area to expand upon. But I'm not sure that 
emails like these are the best step in that direction. When I saw all 
the stirrings about Vinux earlier this year, part of me thought "hmm, 
why isn't this guy helping make Ubuntu more accessible?" And now it's 
splitting the community in that people are claiming that it was "forced" 
not to contribute back. *shrug* I'm not offended, but I think that we 
can be a bit more constructive in resolving this.

And, by all means, if Ubuntu doesn't meet your needs then use something 
else. I don't claim that it's the only or even best solution. But no one 
forces us to make many of the choices we do, so choose another 
distribution if Ubuntu doesn't meet your needs now.

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