(In)Accessibility of Unity in current Precise

Nolan Darilek nolan at thewordnerd.info
Tue Mar 6 14:47:13 UTC 2012

Wait, you mean there's *this much breakage* in a *beta*? I thought that 
betas were supposed to be more stable than less, but what you've just 
described is a fucking accessibility nightmare. I don't use that sort of 
language lightly on public mailing lists, but it's absolutely 
infuriating how Linux for human beings is only for those humans 
fortunate enough to see. The rest of us can just go away.

CCing the Unity list myself. It looks as if, should I choose to stay 
with Ubuntu, I will be stuck on 11.04 again unless some major fixes land 
in the 12.04 timeframe. This, of course, assumes that 12.10 won't be 
just as broken for accessibility as was 12.04 and 11.10 before it. I'm 
stuck on an ancient at-spi that is getting no accessibility fixes that I 
know of. New Firefox versions are breaking things that worked for years, 
and I doubt I'll see any fixes. At this point I'm very seriously 
switching back to OS X after years of Ubuntu use. Don't get me wrong, I 
love Linux and really don't like how Apple treats their developers and 
users. I feel, though, that I've been patient enough for Canonical to 
get it, and if free software can't meet my needs then proprietary 
already does. Also, wasn't 12.04 supposed to be an LTS release? Do blind 
and other disabled users not get the benefits of that?

This email brought to you by my netbook upgrade, which I guess will be 
hosed. I was really hoping to discover that things more or less worked 
and I could upgrade my main machine, particularly as there's a Firefox 
accessibility hang that locks up my system so tight that nothing short 
of a full reboot can get things back. Restarting gdm isn't even 
sufficient anymore. In other words, 11.04 is no longer stable for me. 
Arrowing through webpages causes focus to stick, and my machine now 
hangs regularly. This is not a hardware issue, as I've seen these hangs 
in the a11y subsystem for years, but I can't upgrade to the newest 
at-spi and get any fixes for a problem that grows worse and worse. Even 
a less stable beta would be a relief if the other non-a11y issues were 
slated to be fixed before or shortly after release.

On 03/06/2012 08:33 AM, Alan Bell wrote:
> totally agree, and sharing this with the unity-design list so more 
> people can see it. 12.04 had been pretty decent compared to other 
> development cycles up to a few weeks ago, then it all went wrong. I am 
> not happy about some of the stuff that landed this cycle with zero 
> design consideration for accessibility. Stuff like the shortcuts 
> overlay on long hold of the super key is quite literally broken by 
> design. The HUD landed in 3d and now Unity2d with no functionality for 
> screen reader users (silent in 3d all suggestions are "push button" in 
> 2d), currently the global menu and indicators are almost entirely 
> broken, probably due to the same thing that broke the menus. I know 
> there have been improvements, tedg has done an improvement to the 
> menus by applying role hints to stop everything being a checkbox menu 
> item (caused by the global menu using a check box menu item for 
> everything irrespective of whether it is semantically a checkbox item 
> just because they *look* the same). Menus are currently silent except 
> for reading out the hint (checkbox or radio button) and the shortcuts. 
> I think some of the indicators were briefly not called "image", but 
> right now they all appear to be called "window". I want to start doing 
> some documentation and screencasts and filing of small bugs and fixing 
> strings, but I can't do any polishing because it is all broken. I do 
> know that Unity was supposed to not land broken this cycle, but I 
> can't imagine that orca or onboard feature in the pre-landing test 
> scripts. Are these scripts published?
> Alan.
> On 06/03/12 14:04, Nolan Darilek wrote:
>> Ugh! We get to this point in every release, where there are patches 
>> for a whole bunch of issues that take forever to land. Meanwhile, 
>> testers can't examine the new release to see what new issues were 
>> revealed after the fixing of the old. So there's no accessibility 
>> *test* cycle, just a bunch of bugs that go away after it's too late 
>> to address the newly-revealed ones. Meanwhile, accessibility users 
>> aren't confident in the newer betas, as even the final release can 
>> contain major issues that block productive use.
>> This isn't a slam on Luke, but on Canonical. If Canonical is pushing 
>> out Ubuntu for Android, surely they can put more accessibility people 
>> on the Ubuntu project, especially as it rolls out everywhere. It's 
>> going to be *more* important to have a highly accessible Ubuntu if it 
>> runs on my phone, tablet and TV. Canonical is in an awesome position 
>> to fix this once and have it run across the board, yet I only see 
>> Luke addressing patches and other volunteers occasionally popping in 
>> to remark on things.
>> Seems I've asked this before, but whom do we have to ask to get 
>> Canonical to put more people on the accessibility team as they surely 
>> are doing so for mobile/TV development? Is there some process other 
>> than posting to this list again to better let our voices be heard? 
>> When folks patch these accessibility issues, those patches should 
>> land in a short timeframe. As of now I'm on 11.04 because 11.10 had 
>> accessibility issues I couldn't live with, and 12.04 is shaping up to 
>> be the same. Unfortunately, Firefox is moving on, and I'm 
>> experiencing focus stickage/accessibility hangs that aren't likely to 
>> be fixed because I'm on GNOME 2.32, and I can't see things getting 
>> better as Firefox rockets onward, either.
>> If I don't get feedback on how to approach Canonical, I'll put up and 
>> promote a change.org petition before the week is out. We need to get 
>> more people helping Luke ASAP, especially as I for one don't want to 
>> get left behind when Ubuntu lands on Android.
>> Canonical, please stop deprioritizing accessibility. 11.10 was a 
>> transitional release that was highly broken in many respects. Blind 
>> users at least can't wait until 12.10 for an Ubuntu with speaking 
>> menus, speaking notifications and access to content in Ubuntu's 
>> default mail client.
>> On 03/06/2012 04:39 AM, Boris Dušek wrote:
>>> Hello,
>>> my colleague is using current Precise with Orca and Unity 2D and is
>>> encountering the following problems:
>>> 1. In 2D, if you open the menu using Alt+letter (e.g. Alt+S for 
>>> "&Soubor" in Czech,
>>>     could be Alt+F for "&File" in English), it does not announce 
>>> menu item names
>>>     when navigating left/right and up/down.
>>> 2. In 3D, neither Dash (Alt+F2) nor Launcher (Alt+F1) are accessible 
>>> (you can
>>>     navigate them, but no speech)
>>> Luke mentioned for some of these problems that "patch exists" or is 
>>> even
>>> coming some time ago (approx. half of February), but the problems 
>>> above still persist.
>>> Can I find some of those patches anywhere so that I can make a 
>>> patched version of Unity?
>>> Or better, are those patches coming in some updated unity package 
>>> for Precise?
>>> Thanks and best regards,
>>> Boris Dušek
>>> BRAILCOM,o.p.s.

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