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Re: [Accessibility] Call to Arms

From: Eric S. Johansson
Subject: Re: [Accessibility] Call to Arms
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 23:04:00 -0400
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 On 7/29/2010 2:32 PM, Richard Stallman wrote:
     I have tremendous respect for what RMS and so many on the list have
     achieved. Our  effectiveness however depends on achieving a balance
     between energy spent on our "vision" and on how to get there from here.

The only way to get there is to follow a road which leads there.
Acceptance of nonfree software is a road that never reaches the goal
of freedom.  It leads somewhere else instead.  So we reject it here.

What is so difficult about acknowledging other forms of freedom? this project exists because increasing handicap accessibility increases the choices and, dare I say it, the freedoms available to disabled user. when you eliminate an option to give them improve accessibility, you are effectively holding them hostage to your philosophies and denying them freedoms they would otherwise had and may stilll get going and all non-free route.

You failed on hurd because it didn't get done early enough to garner a significant mind share. I'm predicting, if you follow this path, you will fail because a hybrid or even a totally nonfree approach will be developed first and lock-in user mind share. the end result will be users will be locked into less free software and there'll be no way for you to displace it.

In the long term, no software task inherently requires nonfree
software.  In the short term, there are proprietary programs that do
things that free software currently cannot do.  There is no dispute
about this fact.  The question is what conclusions to draw from it.

To draw the conclusion that we should grant legitimacy to those
proprietary programs tends to lead to more use and more development of
proprietary programs.  It may seem convenient in the short term, but
in the long term it perpetuates the problem.  It does this both
directly and indirectly: directly by encouraging the use of specific
nonfree programs, and indirectly by pouring water on the fire of our
movement to eliminate them.

Thus we must steel ourselves to refuse the sort of short-term
"compassion" that makes injustice and dependence worse.  Work carried
out under GNU auspices must be consistent with our principles.

so you are willing to accept as a valid trade-off elimination of dependency on nonfree software in exchange for making disabled people more dependent on other people and real space social networks with the net result that their quality of life is lower.

a compassionate exemption is a most reasonable approach. Compromises your hardline philosophy but for justifiable reason. Making people's lives better it's always a good reason to alter your behavior.

Another approach to consider is that not only does the toolkit I've proposed increase NaturallySpeaking's value to the end-user but NaturallySpeaking significantly increases the value of the gnu accessibility framework for without it, the framework cannot be used.

Richard, we already offered you a compromise solution which is that we build the framework and everything under the gnu foundation auspices. We take all the nonfree components and build them somewhere else so we can both test and use the framework. In however many years it takes, when you have succeeded in building a replacement recognizer, we will be there to help you slot it in.

Using this approach you get to keep your philosophy intact and I get to help disabled people. I don't know about you but I'm trying for the double karma flakes score here.

one more thing, I gave you a list and a slightly snarky accounting of potential input methods. He said they were more than that and I am still waiting for the list and I promise you, I will give you a decent analysis of each option. I might even hold back the snarky if you ask nice.
Improving Orca is an example of work that supports freedom while
advancing access techmology.  That is the sort of work we can endorse.

How many years has it been and I still see blind people asking basic questions about setting it up? It looks to me like people have missed basic UI issues. take the difficulty with orca and multiply it by almost an order of magnitude and that puts you in the ballpark for how much work it will take to make your speech recognizer work.

Think about that. You will refuse assistance, quality of life, and essential freedoms to disabled people for years, possibly decades. I can see why you want to steal yourself against these kind of compassion because you need to be able to sleep at night.

Come on Richard, you're still a hero of mine and I'm really unhappy seeing you have a rigid approach that makes me think I'm watching the 700 club. Think outside the box, face the reality that this project is that take far longer than anything else you've done in your life. It's going to need literally tens of millions of dollars of effort. It's roughly equivalent and complexity to the Linux kernel and kernels are easy things that only take 15 years to come to a high-level functionality. So out a firewall that you're happy with and you don't even need to communicate it publicly. Choose someone you trust to be the public face and act as your aid in accomplishing the goals of making life better for disabled people using as much free software as possible.

This is reality. People are hurting and need help now. Not 15 years from now. Now! let's apply steady pressure and free them up a bit at a time and get them sold on the important freedoms the free software foundation represents. At the very end, you ride to the rescue with a good recognizer and they will be a complete solution in the shortest possible time. We will have a working solution in the shortest possible time minimizing the pain and suffering of disabled users. Seriously man, there are few better ways I can think of to spend a life.

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