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Re: [Accessibility] resident evil

From: Chris Hofstader
Subject: Re: [Accessibility] resident evil
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2010 13:33:35 -0400

Argh... I hating adding any more to this fire as saying anything is like 
putting out fire with gasoline.

1. It  is not inhibitting anyone's free speech if we keep the list restricted 
to topics compatible with free software. We own this list and, as it's our 
ball, we can make the rules up as we choose. On your court, you can say that no 
on can discuss kittens and kick cat lovers off just because you do not want to 
offend people like me who get sick at things that are altogether too cute 

2. With the ADA restoration Act of 2008 and the proposed new standards, the FSF 
and GNU web sites will fall under the accessibility  requirements as "virtual 
places of public accomodation" and we will work to remidiate any issues we find 
or are reported to us as quickly as we can.

3. The ADA does not, however, have any requirements regarding volunteers. If we 
hire an employee or contractor we do need to make reasonable accomodations in 
the workplace. which could be any number of actions that do not require using 
proprietary software. 

People who know my history will understand that I do not put free software 
ahead of building tools that people with disability can use in lots of 
different ways to accomplish lots of different goals. They also know that I 
don't put tools for PWD after software freedom. In my mind the two are 

In the nearly six years since Tyranny Scientific and I parted ways they have 
threatened to sue me no fewer  than nine separate times. First was for sharing 
some ideas with the guys at Code Factory when I was still employed at the shark 
- apparently our non-compete (according to them) covered sharing a few ideas 
with a company who made products that did not compete with anything the shark 
sold and not even on any of the OS for which we developed (tossed out by 
federal judge, cost to me $13,500). The second lawsuit came when I signed to 
work on Will Pearson's libre screen reader for Windows XP project - apparently, 
volunteering on a project that hoped to demonstrate an entirely new UI paradigm 
for screen readers far from anything the great white did was also covered by 
our non-compete (federal court dismisses after discovery, cost to me: $9500). 
Then, I did an interview with AFB Access World in which I revealed insider 
information regarding the big fin after my non-disclosure had expired; this 
time they went after me on non-disparagement as, telling the truth that a 40 
cell PAC Mate braille display costs less than $300 to manufacture, ship from 
china to the US, put in the ship kit and deliver to a customer was 
"disparagement" and such notions were also kept proprietary (cost to me: 
$17,500, Florida judge dismissed during discovery when the tyrants refused to 
state, with documentation, exactly how much a PM40 ship kit cost saying it was 
a "trade secret" but as they were accusing me of being a liar, they had to fold 
their hands if they didn't want to reveal the numbers they said were "true"). 
Other lawsuits regarded things I wrote in my blog that they considered 
disparaging but were all dismissed as free speech or by asking them to reveal 
the truth which they would refuse (cost to me: about $10K each).

On a lot of these issues, I've bled both financially and emotionally for this 
community. I'm being treated for PTSD as my cognitive system still, after all 
of this, cannot reconcile how a company for which I worked 60-80 hours per 
week, canceled numerous vacations and poured in everything I had (which also 
caused incredible physical injuries from which I still suffer) could turn on me 
and attack at every opportunity they could find. Hell, they'll probably sue me 
if they get a hold of this email, better grab the checkbook and head to the 
lawyer's office.

Tyranny Scientific may behave even less ethically than other proprietary 
software companies but not by much. They actively fight the truth, any sort of 
disclosure that they cannot control and will work to destroy former and, in 
some cases, current employees. I'd be happy to tell you all of these stories 
about so many people other than me who have felt the boot of Lee Hamilton but 
it would hurt far too much to type it all.

I've paid my dues and agree with me or not, I believe, after studying the 
issues at hand for years, that accessibility depends on liberty and that, in 
some cases, we will need to wait so we can build a tremendous future for the 
next generation to come along.

Please do not think that I should be treated like a martyr. I don't want praise 
or pity, I want free software hackers who will work with me to break the 
current status quo in access technology.

Until people with disabilities have total control of our computing rights, we 
are merely serfs on an uncaring corporate landscape. If Tyranny Scientific 
wants to fix a bug, it does; if, however, the bugs that make my job impossible 
are not fixed, I have no way short of paying the shark $250 per hour to fix 
them. Throughout my career, people have said I'm a good bug squasher but 
without the source or other tools my hands are bound and I cannot fix anything.

Free software gives us the freedom to control our own computing destinies. 
Doing anything to separate accessibility from liberty returns us to the 

No one on this list says that you are not entitled to your views, we just ask 
you to keep those ideas and opinions elsewhere. Your technical contributions 
are very worthwhile and any input you have about the entirely libre code  of 
the speech recognition or any other program we're working on is encouraged and 
we welcome your participation.

Recruiting people to leave our project, though, is also unwelcome as it not 
only encourages people to work on proprietary software, it does so in a manner 
that also discourages them from working on free software which is our entire 
reason for existing.

I hope we can come to an understanding as I don't want to lose your intellect, 
energy  and talent.


 Aug 1, 2010, at 1:28 AM, Eric S. Johansson wrote:

> On 7/31/2010 9:07 PM, Richard Stallman wrote:
>> Eric, stop using our list to organize projects that go against our
>> principles.  Don't annouce them, don't post URLs for them.  Don't!
> against free speech.
> against supporting disabled users as #1 priority in accessibility project.
> has policy that puts accessibility director in harm's way by precluding the 
> use non-free accessibility software even if there is no alternative (may put 
> fsf in legal jeopardy re: ADA reasonable accommodation)
> if you read the message, I wanted a place to discuss alternative approaches 
> with out your heavy boot coming down on that.  I was doing you a favor by 
> trying to remove the topic from the list.  the other list was a bunch of 
> people with decades of experience with speech.  not FSF limited but good 
> people overall. again, was doing you a favor of getting rid of the 
> troublemakers
> Please listen to what I say.  I am not against your principals of software 
> must be free.  From a mindful choice and a desire to live right work and 
> right life I place resolving human suffering at a higher level than freeing 
> software.  All the software I create will be free software, I promise you 
> that because that is the only way to keep accessibility in our control.
> I have been invited to work with another group and if people want my help, 
> they will be able to find me.  I will not reject them if they really want to 
> help or learn.  I know others on the list support my stand.  I hope their 
> silent support will become visible as a simple yea/nea and then they can help 
> me with simple tasks you do not want talked about.  I fear you have created a 
> "chilling effect" by how you deal with dissent they fear ostracism.
> I am not your enemy but you are making it hard to be your supporter.
> _______________________________________________
> Accessibility mailing list
> address@hidden

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