FLOSS accessibility (-) 

One of the great potential advantages of is that it can support special interest groups, such as the people needing particular features: when a proprietary vendor decides this group is not worth investing in, you are out of luck. With FLOSS, ideally, all it takes is one contributor who cares to implement those features.

It's sad we don't seem to live up to that promise - yet?

· · Web · 6 · 9 · 13

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

When I first got into FLOSS, over two decades ago, getting into programming and becoming a contributor was hard.

While much has changed, and some things have become easier, unfortunately some things have not and are still hard.

The naive solutions to that problem (which typically come down to "People Should Just Do As I Say") are just that, naive.

I'm not sure what direction the solution lies. I'm sure we should not stop trying, though.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@AbbieNormal it's not a direct reference, but that's what triggered me to think and write about this, yeah.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 


> all it takes is one contributor who cares to implement those features.

Not really, the beauty of FLOSS is that _you_ can be that contributor. Or, more indirectly, you can either hire a freelancer to implement it or write a bug bounty or whatever other methods exist to motivate contribution.

Waiting for people to implement your features is exactly what the problem with proprietary software is. With FLOSS you have the software and means to change it right in front of you, but it's not gonna happen from thin air.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@bfiedler you start with "Not really", but then only make statements I completely agree with ;).

(perhaps with the exception that I don't really believe in bug bounties by users, but that's a pretty separate discussion)

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@raboof my bad, then I misunderstood your point 😄

I read your post as "why isn't accessibility features everywhere happening yet?" The crucial point here is that we can, but it still takes a bunch of motivation and resources to get there. I don't think that the state of accessibility will improve much over what we have now - it (sadly) is and will continue to be a topic which is seldomly focused in proprietary/enterprise or FLOSS applications, mainly because it is a very hard problem: It requires solving UX for (potentially multiple) different views/interactions with $product.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@raboof In theory, but in practice, speaking as a partially blind person, it's a matter of resourcing and available engineering time. I spent blood, sweat and tears for YEARS to even get the Gnome developers looking at the fact that a super basic accessibility feature - Zoom, has been flat busted since the Ubuntu 19.10 timeframe, and it's still out there.

I've tried to look at it myself, but it's screamingly low level C code, and I work in Python every day. I know C, but it's been years.

To me, this is the perfect example of why FLOSS isn't actually very accessible at all. It's not out of malice, it's a matter of simple available person hours.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@feoh Incidentally, this is one of many reasons I'm getting more and more annoyed and sceptical towards endless refactorings and new standards and versions - it puts additional work on everyone yes, but that means it will disproportionally hit those projects and features with less allocated resources.

The inherent regressive tendencies of bit rot, I guess. @raboof

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@pettter @raboof I totally agree. I read about the Gnome 40 rethink and thought "Wow but there's SO MUCH baseline work that needs to happen!".

But here's the thing - this is a largely volunteer effort. Volunteers don't want to spend endless hours implementing accessibility polish and fixing accessibility bugs. They want to work on the new shiny, and, I guess when push comes to shove, who can blame them? It's one of the inherent contradictions of open source desktop usability IMO.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@feoh @raboof I've noticed a tendency for large Open source projects to get *very* insular.

OTOH, for zoom I'd look at either writing a standalone application or at Xorg rather than Gnome.

I've always had zoom functionality by changing the display resolution while holding the screen size constant, which is an Xorg feature that depends on having multiple resolutions configured for the display, and that stopped being a default config a while ago.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@RandomDamage @raboof Respectfully, are you serious? :) I've done Xt programming in my day, and it wasn't trivial. Also, the point here is that I want to run Gnome, but can't because of this bug. I know that labels me as deeply uncool because all the long time Linux denizens run twm and walk uphill, both ways, IN THE SNOW, and LIKE IT, but I'm not a cool kid and want to put my effort behind the desktop environment with the widest support that will help bring more people into Linux, and sadly, today, this is Gnome. (I say sadly only because I'm a KDE fan and wish RH and Canonical had picked it instead :)

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@feoh @raboof the X option doesn't involve programming.

In the Display section of the config file where you specify the resolution of the display, just specify multiple resolutions, then cycle between them with [CTRL]-[ALT]-[PLUS] and [CTRL]-[ALT]-[MINUS].

It used to be a default config, but they probably took it out of the default because it confused people.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@RandomDamage @raboof I REMEMBER THAT!

I was actually around in the days when hand crafting your XF86Config and hoping your monitor wouldn't explode was a thing :)

FLOSS accessibility (-) 


I agree that accessibility is an important and overlooked topic.

The challenge is with FLOSS, it's either written by paid folks or volunteers, and it's roughly the same equation.

If it's paid folks, they're doing the same analysis as the proprietary folks in terms of who will benefit.

If it's volunteers, they're needing to prioritize their own time (and sometimes others' time), and so they have to make hard decisions.

One solution to this might...

FLOSS accessibility (-) 


..One solution to this might be to have people functioning on grants, where the externality of the funding can supply the work being done and not subject them to either market forces, or take from someone's personal time.

FLOSS accessibility (~) 

@emacsen @raboof

> grants

this is what i was basically picturing when i was thinking about the possibility of an accessibility maintainer 'job'

however, i feel like in the long term we should be concerned about the fact even grants aren't totally free from "market forces" when I think of, say, the Linux Foundation getting funding from microsoft or FSFe getting funding from google.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@raboof oh my... did you see @devinprater 's thread on this subject?

Devin has been trying to work with open source tools recently and has basically reached the point where there just isn't a way to continue anymore, he's out of energy from trying.

The issue is "Ideally" it will work, but we don't live in an ideal world. We live in this one.

"Ideal" isn't going to work out. It's going to take _effort._ And _understanding._

Which is where, yes, people who are doing open source would shine FAR more than people doing proprietary. Sadly, the compensation for the former isn't anywhere near the latter, and the amount of utter crap the former have to deal with vs the latter as well...

Anyway. Not to be negative. (I've not had that great a day...) But... I don't have the energy to work on an accessability thing, but I'd very much like to SUPPORT one trying to move in a positive direction.

FLOSS accessibility (-) 

@Truck I did see it, and while my message was not meant as a direct reply to it, it indeed was what triggered me to write down some thoughts on the topic.

I think we are much in agreement: my choice of the words 'potential' and 'ideally' were very deliberate here.

I hope better days are ahead, for you, everyone who participates in open source, and the world in general :)

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.