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Re: Open Letter: How the FOSS Community May Help Disabled Users

>> If disabled people want some kind of help, it is better for them to
>> seek it out, in the manner that they want to.

M. Fioretti:
> One quick comment/reminder on this: generally speaking, I'd agree, but
> this strategy (which is nothing more that what's happened so far) just
> won't work here.
> The specific problem I've reported in my article, and tried to address
> with the open letter, is just that:
> * many disabled people seem to NOT want any kind of FOSS related
>   help. They want to NOT use it. They do NOT want to change. 

This harks back to what I said before, about someone wanting them to do
something.  You can't insist that they let you help them.  You can't
insist that your way is best.

>   The help they are *already* "seeking out, in the manner they want to"
>   is to be spared the whole issue and keep using Windows, period. All
>   the FSF-speak about "Free as in Freedom" doesn't mean anything at
>   all to them, when they don't see it as an insult. See Pietrosanti's
>   comments, or the Boston meetings ones in my article on this exact
>   point.

And this point of view is nothing unique to people with a disability.
There's millions of people who don't want to have anything to do with
Linux, BSD, Mac, or anything different than their Windows.

> * since disabled users *have* legal arguments to enforce their
>   perspective, and Microsoft *is* already exploiting them to block
>   OpenDocument and, indirectly, all FOSS, all FOSS users have a
>   concrete problem here. One which won't go away by just being ready
>   for when an help request comes.
> This is why I'm suggesting that LUGs and similar groups make the first
> step, each one in its area: to establish links, know each other, make
> sure that developers receive the right feedback to increase
> accessibility and that disabled users understand why they can't ignore
> issues like document ownership, interoperability etc.. anymore

Which is not a disability issue, it's an *everybody* issue, and
targeting one particular group with why closed is bad and open is
better, is going about things in a rather bad way.

It really isn't the role of a user group to go evangelising to the local
disability support systems, any more than they should go around touting
Linux to anyone else who didn't ask for advice on the matter.  Most user
groups would be set up so that those with an interest in something have
a way of doing it as a group.

What you're proposing rather reminds me of Greenpeace.  The objectives
are fine, but the stunts are stupid, and the publicity it generates
doesn't really promote the message that they wanted spreading, we just
seem a bunch of wierdoes on the news.

>> consistent hotkeys... if achievable it would mean that users can
>> use different systems without too much difficulties.
>> a really stupid annoyance with many programs that would be easily
>> fixable: Use normal language, with proper punctuation in message
>> dialogues. Speech synthesisers read them out more intelligibly that
>> way.

> Exactly, thanks. These two examples explain PERFECTLY why I think that
> organizing focused install festivals and similar events would be an
> excellent way to keep public sector doors open for FOSS.

To be honest, that sort of thing is best aimed at developers.  You don't
need to tell a blind person that they want to have the same hotkeys
across different programs, they already know that.  It's the people
developing software, and system styling guides, that you need to
convince.  You need to disable some programmers, and make them eat their
own dog food, so to speak.

> Hell will freeze over if you wait for a disabled user to come to a LUG
> or a bugzilla page to file similar issues. He'll just keep using
> windows.  Period. Because it would probably require him many hours of
> cursing at non accessible installers before he can even start to
> _encounter_ the problems you mentioned.

I've got to wonder about that example.  Linux has more ways of doing
things with a text interface than Windows does.  You can install the
entire system without using a GUI, there's plenty of text applications
to use on it once it's been installed.  You can plug speech synthesiser
hardware right into something with a TUI, and not need special drivers
for it.  There's still plenty of blind users using MS-DOS, for that sort
of reason.

> If you make the first step and send an invitation saying something
> like "hello, we are testing the accessibility of some "new" software:
> would you be available to spend an hour or two next week to test it?
> We'd take care of all the logistic, provide an already configured
> computer/laptop...." is a totally different thing.

That sort of thing is best left to those interested in doing it.
There's little point in trying to convince someone not interested in it
to go around trying to advocate Linux to others.  Even less point if
you're hoping to convince someone without background experience in
disability issues, you'd have to know how Linux could be helpful to
someone, before you could go about telling them that it would be.

My own experience in this field is limited technology-wise.  I'm
familiar with various aids (speech synthesisers, enlarged keyboards and
mice, some custom interfaces, etc), but I've always been around people
where imposing technology upon them has been a rather anti-social way of
being involved with them, and the more useful technology was
stand-alone, not a PC.

(Currently running FC4, occasionally trying FC5.)

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored.
I read messages from the public lists.

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