Future of accessibility under Ubuntu

Eric S. Johansson esj at harvee.org
Tue Jun 30 05:00:17 BST 2009

Hugh Sasse wrote:
> On Mon, 29 Jun 2009, Eric S. Johansson wrote:
>>> What can be done to make accessibility work more accessible? :-)
>> well, it would really really help if you, or someone just like you could make
>> NaturallySpeaking completely reliable under wine. Then we could examine
> A good goal, but not quite what I meant!  I meant: how do we make
> the software development process which underpins that kind of work,
> more accessible?  It looks pretty frightening from the outside: lots
> of subtleties about the interactions of different disabilities. Lots
> of subtleties about special devices.  Interfaces and protocols not
> encountered elsewhere, I'd bet.  So there's a lot to learn.

Okay, whenever I income for this kind of complexity, my hair goes up on the back
of my neck and I  involuntarily scream "wrong complexity". I'm willing to bet
that if we look at usability not from a series of warts apply to applications
but instead, a complete and distinct user interface model on a per application
basis, then we might be getting somewhere for simplifying the effort.

Yes, creating user interfaces are expensive There isn't any way around that
because it takes smart people like you and me time to figure out what the
customer needs in order to get their job done.

just a thought that's come out of looking at physical devices and wondering how
people with a variety of disabilities would ever use them. For example, I had a
blind boss. How would he ever use an ATM? He should have a little box (like  a
net book with a touchscreen) that presents an aral user interface with all the
appropriate tactile inputs necessary for him to operate the ATM. With
accelerometers in the pad, he might even be able to locate various features on
the ATM easily and quickly just by "pointing". With simple speech recognition
(IVR class) he could tell it what he wants and in theory, completely operate the
ATM without once touching the machine except remove the cash

Now, say Stephen Hawkins rolls up to the ATM. Oh, this example is so filled with
failures but, I continue. Using a scanning keyboard and displayed on his chair,
he should be able to pick out the dollar amount, which transactions etc. with
relative ease. The only major UI failure I can think of is trying to get the
chair close enough to use a robot arm to pull the cash out and stuff it in his

Same physical device, same core system but different presentations based on the
user. Now, I believe the same model could directly translate to modern-day
software applications. If I have that book running speech recognition, I should
be able to hook it up via Bluetooth or  WiFi or fricken sharks with laser beams
in their heads. I dictate that one machine, I get all the control necessary from
that external machine and I watched the results on the desktop. Blind person,
same thing. They connect, they listen, they operate via their own user interface

You know, I really need to find a way of getting a job doing this thing. It is
such a passion for me because I am so tired of seeing tabs screw it up.

> Yes, I've not even tried to dictate any significant amounts of code.
> It's all rather tedious with the punctuation.  It might need a new
> language that avoids punctuation, but even COBOL has it's share of
> that!

with a few macros, Python doesn't suck too bad unless you're dealing with people
insisting on using Studley caps. I've written something on the order of light
tan or 15,000 lines of Python for either my own startup or open source work.
What's biting me in the ass now is that I really want NaturallySpeaking on wine
What I've seen so far is significantly better than NaturallySpeaking on Windows.
Unfortunately, because of running NaturallySpeaking in virtual machines about
bunch of crap that comes about when you try to edit on the windows and develop
on linux. Trust me, it makes programming using speech recognition but positively
benign.  It would help me somewhat if I could find anyone who knew gconf enough
to solve some of the displaying host applications on a guest XP running X11.
I'll explain if you really want to know but trust me, it's nowhere near as
interesting as it seems)

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