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Re: [Accessibility] AT wizard

From: Patrick Shirkey
Subject: Re: [Accessibility] AT wizard
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2010 19:04:10 -0700
User-agent: SquirrelMail/1.4.19-2.fc10

On Fri, August 20, 2010 5:27 pm, Bryen M. Yunashko wrote:
> On Fri, 2010-08-20 at 16:48 -0700, Patrick Shirkey wrote:
>> Hi,
>> Just found out about this list. I am working with 64 Studio to create a
>> custom built AT distro for a client in Australia. We are receiving a
>> very
>> modest amount of funding to achieve this goal and have now been working
>> on
>> the project for 9 months. During this period I have written a wizard for
>> AT users to enable setting up the gnome desktop prior to logging in to
>> the
>> first session. The logic in the wizard is flexible so with time or
>> funding
>> it would not be difficult to make it work for any desktop environment.
> While I am not attempting to sound critical and do laud your efforts to
> improve accessibility for the end user, I am curious as to how this
> differs from some of the other accessibility-oriented distros or
> re-spins that exist out there.
> Off the top of my head, there is Vinux and Accessivel (sp?), the latter
> being a Portuguese-language based distro in Brazil.  I had initial
> reservations about the existence of even those distros, but am now
> supportive of it because of its goal of being a distro focused on
> quickly identifying general a11y issues and reporting bugs upstream.
> Their work then becomes beneficial to all distros on the whole.
> But in general, I would rather see more work being done on existing
> mainstream distros.  There are a number of distros out there that want
> to do more to be accessible, but don't have enough bodies to do the work
> of implementation and testing.  Diverting the general population that
> could be working on accessibility to multiple smaller
> accessibility-oriented makes the goal of a11y much more difficult to
> achieve.
> Remember that the term "a11y" means more than just the word
> accessibility.  It's a philosophy that states that every person should
> have the right to access a computer regardless of his or her physical or
> mental abilities.  If we're continuing to thin out the herd instead of
> coming together centrally to make accessibility work across the board, I
> fear we'll never achieve true a11y and lead to further confusion for
> accessibility end-users who can't just simply try out the first Linux
> distro they hear of and instead have to poke around until they find a
> much-lesser known accessibility-oriented distro.
> Again, I'm not trying to be critical of what you're doing.  But isn't
> there some way we can begin to unify these efforts?

One of the core reasons we got involved was because our client was
complaining that there was nothing available for AT requirements OOTB.
When we started the project we researched online and couldn't find any
other AT distros at the time. Since then we have become aware of Vinux and
have been in contact with the lead dev on the project.

We have plans to release the wizard publicly when it is fully tested and
that will hopefully get adopted by all distros.

In addition some of the requirements of our client have required a custom
branded distro as they are looking at ways to get it installed in kiosks
and have specified features that we are well placed to roll out quickly at
64 Studio due to the existing systems developed for the 64 Studio
distribution. The final build is a very lightweight installation built on
Ubuntu Koala.

At 64 Studio our policy is to push upstream any of the work we do on apps.
So far we have been building the wizard and configuring the distro to meet
the specs of our client and haven't had to make any mods to other

We have no intention of taking wind from the sails of the other projects
aimed at the broader market. If anything the funding to get us this far
has provided a useful boost for everyone else as now we have a wizard to
share with the community.

Patrick Shirkey
Boost Hardware Ltd.

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