Accessibility for person with a motor disability

Mats L m.lundalv at
Wed Mar 21 19:03:04 UTC 2018


It's always very good to have a person speaking on behalf of himself or
herself as a user representing an actual need. There is a lack of this for
people with mobility based access problems in these forums for free
software, compared to the areas of low or no vision. Part of the problem is
the really wide and diverse range of needs regarding physical access -
disabilities as well as abilities. (Regarding cognitive disabilities and
needs there is a general lack of people at all able and interested in
speaking and doing things on behalf of those needs in the GNU/Linux world.)
So thanks for stepping in! I'll be looking at your ideas with great

I can agree with some of what you're saying, but not with all of it. I can
definitely in great parts understand and share your frustration and
dissatisfaction about the situation. I agree with and can confirm your
picture of the situation regarding speech recognition in the GNU/Linux
based environments. We don't even have decent text-to-speech solutions for
wider user needs (even in English and major languages, far less in smaller
languages - see for example
But remember that speech input is a dead end for a large part of users with
mobility based access problems, those who have impaired or no speech.

Eye-gaze input is another hot area where it seems unrealistic to expect any
decently competitive and user-friendly solutions in the free software
domain in any near future.

This said, I think it's very good to have Alex ask these questions about
what's available. A decent awareness about the state of the art is always a
necessary starting point for some improvement. And people have difficulties
even finding their way to existing solutions. Things like decent
head-tracking, on-screen keyboards (OSK) etc are really important to have
available, and are life savers for some users, even though there is a huge
potential of improvements.

One thing that makes me frustrated is the sustained tendency of unnecessary
fragmentation and lack of collaboration even in this area of handling basic
accessibility needs. Why don't for example the people involved in
maintaining and developing Caribou and Onboard team up and unite on one
common OSK with a wider range of functionality and options - for all
GNU/Linux distros and flavours, and with support from them?

Dasher <>is really an example of the
kind of needs based, unorthodox and innovative solutions for text input
that you were asking for. Have you tried it? As a second best, compared to
excellent speech recognition, I think it could be relevant for you? But
there I guess we now also have a problem with continued maintenance since David
MacKay <> so unfortunately
passed away.

Maintaining decent accessibility for all in an ever changing ICT universe
is not an easy task, and particularly not on the free software platforms it
seems, so far ...


Mats Lundälv

2018-03-21 17:35 GMT+01:00 Eric Johansson <esj at>:

> On 3/21/2018 11:30 AM, Alex ARNAUD wrote:
> > Le 21/03/2018 à 15:27, Eric Johansson a écrit :
> >> On 3/20/2018 5:35 AM, Alex ARNAUD wrote:
> >>>
> >>> What is as you know the most efficient way to write text with a
> >>> head-tracking software?
> >> I'm frustrated by this kind of question because frequently, this is the
> >> wrong question. you should be asking what is the appropriate interface
> >> to enable the person with a disability to write, and more importantly,
> >> edit text.  much of this thread has been proposing answers based on
> >> what's available, not what the person needs.
> >
> > I understand what you mean. I just don't know what people with motor
> > disability need. I'm trying to understand what it is available and
> > I'll check with an association what the users use in practice. I'm in
> > the first step on a long way.
> We need more than just an accessibility tool, we need a different way of
> accessing functionality and data embedded in applications. I've been
> trying for years to figure out how to write code by speech and here's
> the current state of thinking. I did this is a proposal to github for
> talk it github universe.
> 0vutu98F9Yl1b0/edit?usp=sharing
> It just occurred to me that another example of building your own
> interface for the moment is what I'm doing right now. I'm extracting
> bank statements to give to my accountant for tax prep. When you download
> a statement, my bank labels every statement PDF.pdf. Yeah, I was
> thinking the same thing. So I built a grammar that I can say "statement
> in June" and it creates a file name of "1234-2018-06.pdf". I still have
> to, display in PDF and then click the download button before I can get
> to the point where I need to enter a filename but being able to generate
> filenames by speech makes it much easier.
> >
> >> I can't use keyboards much because of a repetitive stress injury. I
> >> would say that the most efficient way to write text with a head tracking
> >> software is to not even try at all. It's the wrong tool. For many kinds
> >> of mobility-based disabilities (RSI, arthritis, amputation etc.) speech
> >> recognition would be a better tool.
> >
> > Which tool are you using on your GNU/Linux distribution for doing
> > speech recognition ?
> I'm not using a GNU/Linux distribution because well people of promised
> speech recognition on Linux for as long as I've been disabled and it
> just hasn't happened. what I use is Windows with NaturallySpeaking and
> what ever hacks I can get to drive free software. I'm missing tons of
> functionality that's present in NaturallySpeaking plus word (i.e.
> Select-and-Say and easy misrecognition correction) but I do what I can.
> I think it's safe to assume that we will not see speech recognition on
> linux in the near future. there are at least a half a dozen projects I
> can name off the top of my head that were going to provide speech
> recognition on Linux "any day now". If you going to use speech
> recognition today, the recognition environment must be available now.
> The question then becomes what can we do if we put speech recognition
> "in a separate machine" like a VM or an android phone. the idea is to
> isolate the nonfree components so that a disabled person can make a
> living, participate online etc. using a mostly free environment. I
> propose this because the assumption that every machine should be
> equipped with  the accessibility tools the user needs raises the cost of
> accessibility and limits the disabled user to just one machine that has
> been customized for them. If on the other hand, if we put the
> accessibility interface in a separate box like a smart phone and provide
> a gateway to drive applications then many more machines could be made
> accessible at very low overhead.
> remember what I said about solving the disabled person's needs? As I
> said to one free software advocate, take care of the needs of the
> disabled person to make them as independent as possible, to earn a
> living, to live a life first. Advocate free software second if it fits
> their needs. I know this is not a popular attitude in some circles but,
> quite frankly if I had to wait for speech recognition from the free
> software community, I would be living on disability, wasting my life
> because I wouldn't be able to work, I wouldn't be able to go to school,
> and I just can't tell you how many things you lose when your hands don't
> work right.
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