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    Almost all the people starting UI tookits or GUI libraries and posting them here either don’t mention accessibility at all, or say it is something they hope to get to eventually…. but never actually do. It is complicated even on Windows, where there is a pretty established system api for it, and on Linux it is hard to even find a reasonable interface to use when you do make the effort.

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        Summary: the GNOME accessibility stack has bitrotted over the last 20 years, and the companies that support GNOME development have only spent enough on accessibility to keep the old stack kind-of limping along, and check off the ‘accessibility’ requirement on some manager’s checklist.

        Honestly, I wonder if the solution doesn’t involve a lawsuit against RedHat from a paying RHEL customer to force them to fund accessibility development.

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          [Pardon the length of my comment. Please bear with me, this is an important issue for me.]

          Suing Redhat would be like kicking a puppy :)

          And I say that as a partially blind Linux fan and long time sufferer at the hand of the Linux desktop.

          I’ve ranted and roared at length here and elsewhere about how I’ve come to realize why this isn’t a solvable problem given the way we currently fund and resource FLOSS development and moved on, and that realization speaks to the crux of this issue.

          Linux desktop is a teeny tiny niche market. For those of us who care A LOT about Linux, that’s not an easy thing to hear, but it’s true. What that means in dollars and cents is that there are a scant number of engineering resources devoted to evolving the desktop, and barring some kind of seismic shift that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

          IMO Daniel Van Vugt, a heavyweight contributor to Gnome from Canonical, said it best (From this bug that went unfixed and made Gnome unusable to me for ~2 years ):

          Daniel van Vugt @vanvugt - I would enjoy working on this bug, as I have for similar bugs in the past. It is just a matter of having the time. Although 8 months might seem like a long time to some people, and it’s hard to deny that it’s not, that’s still much less overdue than the things I am already working on. You can assume many developers are in a similar situation. GNOME and Linux in general are large scale projects which in a commercial environment you might expect large teams working on. But in this open source environment we are spread fairly thin, and across many different companies and private individuals.


          So, I would love to see the situation improve, but until we find a better solution to more fully fund these insanely complex projects we all love, I don’t personally see one or even a path to one. I’ve decided to turn my attention elsewhere in the Linux ecosystem where I can have more impact and feel less (literal!) pain.

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            Maybe, in true CADT fashion, it’s time to redesign the accessibility architecture. I do have some vague ideas for replacing AT-SPI, which I seriously think is a bad design, though the efforts to keep it limping along are admirable. I suspect, though, that if I came charging in with my new design, it wouldn’t be well received.

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          I wish people wouldn’t refer to things like this as problems with Linux. The problems in the article have almost nothing to do with Linux:

          • GNOME and KDE are both cross-platform desktop environments and the same problems exist whether you use them on Linux, *BSD, Solaris, or anything else.
          • Android, which is (more or less) exclusively a Linux platform, and the most widely deployed Linux client platform by a few orders of magnitude, does not have these problems.
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            Well, if distributions call themselves “Linux distros”, then there is no real visibility of it for casual users. Calling this problem out as “Every major Linux UI framework Accessibility: an unmaintained Mess” does not make things any better.

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              Except that it’s not ‘Every major Linux UI framework’. The mostly widely deployed Linux UI framework is on Android and it does not have these issue. There are over a billion Android devices in circulation. The combined number of KDE and GNOME installs is less than 1% of this. If you scope your complaint to Linux, you’re talking about an obscure niche. If you scope it to open source desktop environments, nothing you’re saying is specific to Linux.

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                I think calling Android’s amalgamation of a kernel Linux is doing Linux a disservice. Nor can you really call Android a UI framework. It’s an OS that is based on Linux at most. But in reality, this doesn’t matter anyways, since the title brings the message it has to anyways.

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                  To be honest, this is why I consider “GNU/Linux” an actually useful distinction and not GNU/Pedantry.

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                    I think calling Android’s amalgamation of a kernel Linux is doing Linux a disservice.

                    Linux is a trademark filed by Linus Torvalds and currently held by the Linux Foundation. It refers, specifically, to the kernel originally created by Linus Torvalds. Android is as much Linux as Ubuntu is Linux (i.e. a small amount, in both cases).

                    Nor can you really call Android a UI framework. It’s an OS that is based on Linux at most.

                    I am not sure what the name of the UI framework that Android ships is called, or even if it has a separate name from ‘Android’. So far, most attempts to run Android’s userspace on non-Linux operating systems have failed. Android’s app model is far more closely tied to Linux than GNOME or KDE. It is fair to call Android’s UI framework a Linux UI frameowkr because it is intimately tied to Linux-specific APIs and is not portable. It is far less fair to call GNOME or KDE Linux UIs because they are both portable codebases that have run on *BSD, Solaris, HURD (GNOME, at least) and even Windows (KDE natively, GNOME via X11).

                    But in reality, this doesn’t matter anyways, since the title brings the message it has to anyways.

                    The title is a lazy conflation, which both dilutes the Linux trademark by treating the word ‘Linux’ as a generic term and which erases non-Linux open-source operating systems that run exactly the same GUI stacks.

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                I think that is quite a disingenuous take.

                Do you get a more accessible Linux by not installing Gnome or KDE?

                What is the Linux accessibility story if it is separate from Gnome or KDE?

                If Android is a »Linux platform«, is iOS a BSD platform and does that mean that BSD has the industry’s best accessibility?

                I would say that any accessibility afforded by Android is despite Linux, or totally unrelated to any work made by Linux’s accessibility experts.

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                  Do you get a more accessible Linux by not installing Gnome or KDE?

                  Yes, Linux’s pseudoterminal support works very well with braille terminals, for example.

                  What is the Linux accessibility story if it is separate from Gnome or KDE?

                  Braille or screen readers for the terminal, magnification in X compositing window managers, X11 screen reader interfaces.

                  If Android is a »Linux platform«, is iOS a BSD platform and does that mean that BSD has the industry’s best accessibility?

                  iOS is a BSD platform, yes, as is macOS. I’m not sure what the relevance is, because no one is writing articles about *BSD usability and talking only about iOS or only about GNOME/KDE on FreeBSD.

                  I would say that any accessibility afforded by Android is despite Linux, or totally unrelated to any work made by Linux’s accessibility experts.

                  Who are these ‘Linux’ accessibility experts? Linux is a kernel. Accessibility has almost nothing at all to do with the kernel.

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                  I don’t believe anyone who read the article in good faith would have come away with the confused belief that it was about poor accessibility in Linux-the-operating-system-kernel, or with the idea that somehow GNOME and KDE are somehow Linux-only.

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                  This article was written so that focus can be brought to the accessibility of the Linux desktop. As Raspberry Pi computers become more prevalent in schools, I want blind students to be able to enjoy learning to code, manage systems, and explore computing.

                  It saddens me that the children born in this century, whether sighted or not, must grow up with the notion that computers, in some intrinsic way, must be coded, managed and explored as a microscopic version of a 1970s minicomputer.

                  This was not how I expected computers to look when I grew up.

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                    What would you prefer? Why are the ways that a Raspberry Pi is like a small 70s minicomputer more significant than the ways in which it is not?

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                    I imagine university computer science departments are paying attention to this problem. They are in the somewhat unique position of supporting Linux desktop computers for sight impaired users. At my alma mater we tried to set up a blind student to use the Linux lab computers with Orca. It was too painful for him so I’m pretty sure he moved back to Windows and had course accommodations so all the work could be performed in Windows itself or over PuTTY.

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                      Fewer universities than you might think.