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[Accessibility] Organising a community of visually impaired programmers

From: Bill Cox
Subject: [Accessibility] Organising a community of visually impaired programmers
Date: Wed, 26 May 2010 09:37:53 -0400

I believe it is time for programmers with disabilities in the free
software community to take the future of accessibility into it's own

For years, the community waited for paid developers at various
organisations to provide excellent accessibility, and these developers
did lay down an excellent framework.  However, as companies like Sun
get bought by the likes of Oracle, and as tight budgets force
reductions in accessibility teams, we've seen whole areas of
accessibility decay.  The rush to push new glitzy technology out
rapidly has led to non-accessible desktop managers and unresponsive
sound systems installed by default by the major GNU/Linux distros.

Fortunately, because these distros are built on free software, we have
the power in our own hands to fix and improve accessibility.  There
are enough of us to do the job, part time, if organised well.  GNU has
made a powerful statement on accessible software, and I feel GNU is in
a good position to help bring together the community of visually
impaired developers.  Would this be an effort GNU would like to lead,
and is this list a good place to get started?

I think we should also try to include programmers with physical
disabilities, who may use commercial speech recognition software
because they have to, but who want to help build free software
infrastructure to support them.

I know this is a very general statement, but what I have in mind is a
focused team tackling the various issues that degrade accessibility
throughout the GNU/Linux infrastructure.  I'm keeping a list of bugs
and desired enhancements.  If we had team members, we could get
started right away.  I've helped turn the Vinux distro into a testing
ground for those bug fixes and improvements, so we wont have to wait
for release cycles to get our work into users hands, but what counts
is getting the work done, not the Vinux distro.  It likely makes more
sense for us to organise here, rather than on the vinux list, which is
generally more about supporting users than getting this important work
done.  Can GNU help lead this effort?


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