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Re: [Accessibility] Call to Arms

From: Eric S. Johansson
Subject: Re: [Accessibility] Call to Arms
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2010 20:27:14 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100713 Thunderbird/3.1.1

 On 7/27/2010 12:57 PM, Richard Stallman wrote:
     If you don't have money you can't make choices. If you can't
     make choices, you don't have freedom.

I think that statement is the root of the error.  To lack money is
unpleasant, but it does not mean you have lost your freedom.
(Contrast being broke with being in jail.)

I think choice is a core concept of freedom. There are many things that control your choice. overt things such as police force or more subtle such as First Amendment chilling effect. We've been talking about one choice restrictor which is physical injury. The has the secondary follow of money as a choice restrictor. Granted, most of the money issues are based in economic transactions (i.e. buying something) but in this case, if you want to have a job, you currently have no choice other than to buy recognition software.

It is also an exaggeration, since there are many choices even a person
without money can make.  Exaggerations like this are commonly found in
arguments against the importance of free software and other freedoms.

I'm not arguing against free software or any of the other stuff you mention. I'm arguing that a disability reduces choice if you want to stay solvent. If the only way to keep the job is to buy nonfree software, you will by nonfree software.
Meanwhile, even a person in jail can make some choices -- which
confirms that there is a conceptual error in trying to define
freedom this way.

     No. It doesn't mean he must have the same wealth, it means they should 
have the
     same opportunity within reasonable bounds.

Equality of opportunity is a good thing, but it is not the same as

     I've been there and I'm still there. Let's say I bought into the 
philosophy. I
     would get rid of my computer because a free system that I can't use is
     fundamentally useless.

"Can't use" is such a strong statement that I wonder if it is another
exaggeration,  Even if you have no hands, there are other ways to input
besides dictation.
uh, bull fertilizer. I'll retract if you prove me wrong. As far as I know, There are no fast and reliable method of inputting text other than keyboards and speech recognition.

The input methods I know of include:

speech recognition
unicorn stick
X.-Y. toggle stick

Typing: we all know typing. You press your fingers on various keys with letters on top and outcomes text. De facto text input device

speech recognition: faster than typing, if lucky more accurate. Generates a whole new class of errors for editing purposes. Not so good with non-textual input.

Dasher: built by research group in the UK, it was the first new handicap accessible input model in many years. Requires moderate dexterity plus word prediction training in order to increase accuracy and speed. In the beginning, speed is very slow and may even be slower than toggle sticks or scanners.

Minion: some poor sod who was willing to be paid to type what they think you said. Probably does not understand code but the minute they do, they'll recognize that they can make more money writing code for themselves and probably choose to do so. Very expensive to pay for a body to type your dictation. For developers, it might be cheaper to rent a developer in southeast wherever for a fraction of their salary and outsource themselves.

Unicorn stick: this is my favorite. It must've been one drunken frat party when they came up with this one. I can just see a bunch of plebes with unicorn sticks strapped to their head pecking out messages on a keyboard while holding an egg under their chin and going cluck, cluck, cluck. Like I said, drunken, frat party or, horribly cruel trick to play on the disabled.

X. Y toggle stick: variation of the scanner. Use the XY input from the toggle stick to select characters off of a matrix on the screen. It's sort of like battleship except you win when you get the word you want and you haven't died of old age yet.

Scanner: I think this is the device that Stephen Hawking uses. A cursor slides over a matrix of letters on the screen and when you get the right letter, you push a button or flip a switch somehow to indicate that the cursor is on the right character. Usually used with some form of or prediction software to reduce the number lifetimes you have to spend entering words. Decidedly non-real-time and cumbersome someone even vaguely handed.

I think that was reasonably accurate but admittedly snarky. Have I missed anything?

In 1983, nobody could use a new computer except with proprietary
software, So I set about developing the free replacements for that
proprietary software.  I worked on the major components of a free
system that were missing.  You could do the same now.  It would be
ethical for you to use NaturallySpeaking if your main activity were
working directly towards replacing it.

obviously, I see things in a slightly different line. I could not work on a replacement of NaturallySpeaking because I do not have the knowledge, I do not have the ability to create/edit code, and that's not where my interest lies. I could work on a tools front-end that would work with either NaturallySpeaking or GNUlizzard because I have the interest, the knowledge, and if I could find a way to fix VR_mode, we could make NaturallySpeaking and Emacs work so I could write Python code!

I'm sorry, this irritates the hell out of me. If I don't have the tools, I can't help with the progress which would make it possible to replace NaturallySpeaking. As it is, I would need to go buy an editor which uses one of the standard edit controls on Windows, pay money for it and hope that I could easily synchronize the code between Linux and Windows. We really need to start with a small things and make them work which will in turn attract more developers, etc. etc. unfortunately I have already flogged that dead horse too much I fear

For several years I had bad hand pain and mostly could not type.
I did not even consider using a nonfree dictation program, because
nonfree software would take away my freedom and I was not prepared
to dedicate my efforts to replacing it.

You are far better man than I am. All I can see is that you gave up the independence of using the computer yourself. you gave a bit of privacy when you allow someone else to see what you want entered. you gave up a bit a security when you allow someone to know your passwords. At that time in your life, you were dependent on other people to type for you in the same way that I am dependent on others to write for me.

My hands are bad enough I can no longer fill in paper forms or take longhand notes. It is damned embarrassing having to ask strangers to write for you like you are some sort of illiterate person who wandered in off of the street. if I had the option of buying a proprietary package that would somehow let me generate handwriting, I would do so in a heartbeat because it would give me a different degree of freedom in my life. if it was a really useful tool, I would talk with others about making a free replacement but, in the meantime,-I would be able to write-! That would be so wonderful because I be free of the embarrassment, the hostile looks, disbelieving comments. It would be wonderful because it would free me to use my hands in one more way.

Damn, I was almost having a mental orgasm at the thought of being able to write again. Never thought of celibacy involving pencils but, that's probably what's going on.

I really don't expect you to agree and that's okay. That's what discussion is all about. I just wanted to record one set of perspectives on accessibility desire really

Our goal is to eliminate proprietary software.  Towards that end, we
have to teach people it is bad.  We cannot do that and simultaneously
suggest a "solution" that includes NaturallySpeaking -- that is a
non-starter here.

I can accept that if we can build a series of components that work together and are totally free but not preclude the option of some filthy stinky code monkeys going off and putting in NaturallySpeaking as a plug-in.

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