[orca-list] VINUX-SUPPORT: RE: Ubuntu Unity Desktop to go to Mir and QT

Alex Midence alex.midence at gmail.com
Wed Jul 24 20:24:55 UTC 2013

The way accessibility was approached by Google is pretty smart.  Eyes-free
they call it implying that someone who can see might choose to operate their
smartphone without using their vision.  This is so they can keep their eyes
on the road, for instance.  Thus, it became something valuable to include in
their operating system as a feature that could benefit the entire user
population and not just one specific sector of it.  I thought it was rather
clever and I must say I like the inclusive mindset.  Apple has done
something similar with Siri.

Alex M

-----Original Message-----
From: orca-list [mailto:orca-list-bounces at gnome.org] On Behalf Of
Christopher Chaltain
Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:17 PM
To: vinux-support at googlegroups.com
Cc: 'Ubuntu Accessibility Mailing List'; orca-list at gnome.org
Subject: Re: [orca-list] VINUX-SUPPORT: RE: Ubuntu Unity Desktop to go to
Mir and QT

I know you didn't say this, but Mark Shuttleworth and Jane Silver are aware
that totally blind people can use computers and smart phones. I think you're
right in that it's hard for any one to quantify their return on investment
into accessibility, even a smart business man or woman. I'm not even sure
you could say that Apple has sold a million iPhones they wouldn't have sold
otherwise because of VoiceOver and accessibility. Also, selling a million
more smart phones has to be prioritized behind selling that first smart

Getting a new smart phone with a new operating system into the arena is
incredibly hard. Not only is there all of the development that needs to go
on (think of all of those apps you take for granted on your current smart
phone and realize none of those apps exist yet under Unity) but there's also
the fact that you need to get manufacturers and carriers on board and build
an ecosystem around a new player in the mobile space.

I'm not saying Canonical shouldn't be investing more in accessibility, in
fact, I think they should be. I'd like to see them pushing accessibility
more in their marketing, be the first smart phone to be accessible right out
of the gate and hammer home the fact that ubuntu (the philosophy and
operating system) includes blind people. I think this would pay off for
Canonical down the road.

Whatever anyone thinks of Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth, he is an
incredibly successful, bright and driven person, and he has to accomplish an
awful lot with limited resources if Ubuntu Touch is going to be successful.
Accessibility is only one challenge on his radar.

On 07/24/2013 12:29 PM, Krishnakant Mane wrote:
> I think the issue here is the total mindset and also the fact that 
> many so called smart business men don't realize the business they can 
> generate out of accessibility.
> Firstly, there are those who don't *still* beleive that a totaly blind 
> person like me can actually use a Phone, let alone a computer.
> And I am refering to highly qualified engineers or business personals.
> Secondly, how many would go one step ahead and say "let's add a 
> million more probable custommers by making the device accessible"?
> That's why accessibility takes a back seet.
> happy hacking.
> Krishnakant.
> On 07/24/2013 10:51 PM, Christopher Chaltain wrote:
>> I agree accessibility should be baked in from the beginning. It's 
>> cheaper than bolting it on later, opens up more revenue streams, 
>> provides positive PR and so on. It's the law here in the US, and just 
>> the right thing to do. I wasn't speaking from my own opinion, but 
>> just echoing where I think these companies are coming from and why I 
>> think their making the investments they are. I can't think of a 
>> single smart phone company that introduced an accessible smart phone 
>> with they're first offering and that includes Apple, Google, 
>> Microsoft and Nokia. I don't like it, but I don't think many 
>> companies place accessibility very high on their priority lists as 
>> compared to getting a new product into the market place and getting 
>> it to a point where it's competitive and profitable.
>> I've heard that Apple had to develop it's own screen reader when 
>> Berkley Systems went out of business and no other 3rd party screen 
>> reader would develop a screen reader for the Mac. Apple was in danger 
>> of losing government contracts because MS had an accessible story 
>> while Apple did not. I don't know this first hand, but I would say I 
>> have it from reliable sources. Of course, Apple has gone far beyond 
>> this in making all of it's products accessible out of the box.
>> I'm not aware of any company losing a government contract because 
>> they didn't have an accessible smart phone story, but I suspect this 
>> is possible as smart phones become more and more a ubiquitous part of 
>> the business world. This is why I suspect MS will address 
>> accessibility on their Windows Phone platform at some point. I think 
>> they need to get the Windows Phone platform to a point where 
>> government agencies start considering asking their employees to use a 
>> Windows Phone. Right now, I suspect Windows Phone doesn't have the 
>> apps or the market penetration for businesses or government agencies 
>> to even consider it as an option. I've heard good things about the 
>> Windows Phone platform though, and I do know it's becoming a viable 
>> third option behind Apple and Android.
>> The real point of my email though was to be careful making analogies 
>> between Canonical and Apple/Google. If we assume Canonical has 500 
>> employees with one person working on accessibility (I know I'm being
>> optimistic.) then how does this compare to Apple and it's ratio of 
>> total employees to those working on accessibility? Also, don't forget 
>> that Apple's first smart phone was not accessible. It wasn't until 
>> this was successful in the market place and competing with Nokia and 
>> Blackberry before they added accessibility. Ditto for Google.
>> On 07/24/2013 11:57 AM, Al Sten-Clanton wrote:
>>> It strikes me that, from the perspective you're describing, a 
>>> "viable product" apparently does not include accessibility as a 
>>> matter of course.  (I'm not saying that's your own view, but only 
>>> that this is the view you describe--all too well and concisely.) 
>>> Until our access needs are deemed equal to the access needs of those 
>>> who use the standard monitor and other tools, the attitude in the
business will be wrong.
>>> Tell me if I'm mistaken, but I think I heard recently that Apple's 
>>> recent foray into accessibility resulted from a law suit.  (I say 
>>> "recent foray" because there was a period during the 1980s when it 
>>> provided some speech output at least.) Does anybody know for sure 
>>> whether this is right or wrong?
>>> Al
>>> On 07/23/2013 11:38 PM, Christopher J Chaltain wrote:
>>>> I agree it's unfortunate that Luke is the only one working on Unity 
>>>> accessibility, but there is a big difference between Canonical and 
>>>> Apple or Google. Apple is the wealthiest company in the world. 
>>>> Google is also a large company and is also quite profitable. Apple 
>>>> and Google are already well established players in the mobile 
>>>> space. Neither the iPhone nor Android were accessible when they 
>>>> were first released. Canonical is a tiny company, less than 600 
>>>> employees, and is still not profitable after being around for about 
>>>> eight years or so. It's still trying to break into the mobile 
>>>> market.
>>>> I'm not defending Canonical here. I too wish that they would invest 
>>>> more in accessibility development. I'm just pointing out that 
>>>> circumstances right now between Canonical and Apple/Google are 
>>>> quite a bit different.
>>>> I think Canonical focus right now is to just get a viable product 
>>>> out into the market place. I'm sure that once that happens and it 
>>>> becomes successful, they'll invest more in accessibility, just as 
>>>> Apple and Google have. In some ways, this is analogous to Microsoft 
>>>> and Windows Phone. MS's priority right now is to become relevant in 
>>>> the mobile space. Once that happens then I think accessibility will 
>>>> move up higher on their priority queue.
>>>> On 07/24/2013 08:41 AM, Alex Midence wrote:
>>>>> Hi, Luke,
>>>>> Just to be clear, I don't think and have never thought you were 
>>>>> part of the problem.  What I do think is that it sucks that you 
>>>>> are the only one having to do all this work.  They really should 
>>>>> hire you some help.  There is only so much one person can do and 
>>>>> a11y is a big job.  Apple has a full on team working on Voiceover.  
>>>>> Google has Dr. Raman and his assistant and probably others I don't 
>>>>> know about working on Android accessibility. If canonical is going 
>>>>> to expand into all these other markets, I don't see why they can't 
>>>>> hire you a couple of assistants to help distribute the workload.
>>>>> However,
>>>>> those decisions are beyond our control.  Speaking for myself, I am 
>>>>> personally very appreciative of all the work you have put in.
>>>>> Best regards,
>>>>> Alex M
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Luke Yelavich [mailto:themuso at ubuntu.com]
>>>>> Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 11:05 PM
>>>>> To: Alex Midence
>>>>> Cc: Christopher Chaltain; vinux-support at googlegroups.com; 'Ubuntu 
>>>>> Accessibility Mailing List'; orca-list at gnome.org
>>>>> Subject: Re: [orca-list] VINUX-SUPPORT: RE: Ubuntu Unity Desktop 
>>>>> to go to Mir and QT
>>>>> On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 01:33:34PM EST, Alex Midence wrote:
>>>>>> Also, for the record, I fully recognize and appreciate all the 
>>>>>> hard work of the developers of the Ubuntu community who freely 
>>>>>> give of their time to make things accessible.  However, it was 
>>>>>> disappointing to finally have gotten a very accessible port of 
>>>>>> Unity in 12.04 only to be told that we were back to poor a11y in 
>>>>>> other versions of the distro for at the very least 2 full years.
>>>>> For the record, I was disappointed as well. I expressed my desire 
>>>>> for Unity to stick with using Qt at the time, given the 
>>>>> accessibility advantages it brought for one, and the fact that it 
>>>>> would have made maintaining unity easier as the nux GUI toolkit 
>>>>> wouldn't also need to be maintained, and Qt is well established 
>>>>> etc.
>>>>> I am the only developer working for Canonical who spends at least 
>>>>> some of the time working on accessibility issues. I say some of 
>>>>> the time, because I do have other duties, in fact the primary 
>>>>> reason why I was hired was not to work exclusively on 
>>>>> accessibility, although the powers that be are ok with me doing 
>>>>> so.
>>>>> Having said that, my big focus for the next 10-12 months will 
>>>>> almost exclusively be getting Qt5, Mir, and Unity as accessible an 
>>>>> environment as one person can possibly manage. Qt5 helps somewhat, 
>>>>> but the specific parts of Qt that are being used for the new Unity 
>>>>> still have some rough spots when it comes to accessibility, and 
>>>>> there is also the changing graphics stack and everythign that goes 
>>>>> with it to deal with.
>>>>> Given these changes, and given I am the only person who is likely 
>>>>> going to be working on all of this, I cannot really promise 
>>>>> anything, given the work that is required, and given the time and 
>>>>> resources, or possibly lack there of, available to do so. I do 
>>>>> really appreciate that you all want regularly updated, accessible 
>>>>> distro releases that have the latest accessibility crack, but 
>>>>> please keep in mind just how many of us in the wider *nix 
>>>>> accessibility community there are, and also keep in mind how many 
>>>>> of us are involved with some form of active development in the 
>>>>> area, and if you want to dig deeper, think about the number of us 
>>>>> working on GUI desktop accessibility of some kind.
>>>>> I try to take the approach of under promising, and at least 
>>>>> delivering, and if I can over deliver, than thats great.
>>>>> In the meantime, there is the Ubuntu GNOME remix, with GNOME 
>>>>> shell, wich does work quite well these days. I'll do my best to 
>>>>> try and fix any issues people may notice with that release, given 
>>>>> the accessibility tools and infrastructure are shared with GNOME 
>>>>> and Unity.
>>>>> Thanks, and I really appreciate your understanding, and support.
>>>>> Luke

Christopher (CJ)
chaltain at Gmail
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