How did people here learn GUIs

Jude DaShiell jdashiel at
Tue Jul 19 18:41:42 UTC 2016

When compuserve messed up its interface then went over to web interface, 
it lost a huge part of its customer base.  I talked with a Compuserve 
employee after all of that happened and the dust had time to settle and 
they told me the corporation had made a huge mistake.  My original 
computer access for any considerable time started out with a vax and a 
teletype and an Optacon.  Later I got a cp/m computer and ended up 
learning stuff I'd later use on the job with that equipment.  Then I got 
an ibm pc xt with pc-dos on it and was moved to ms-dos by my employer. 
On Tue, 19 Jul 2016, Janina Sajka wrote:

> Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2016 14:08:24
> From: Janina Sajka <janina at>
> Reply-To: Linux for blind general discussion <blinux-list at>
> To: Linux for blind general discussion <blinux-list at>
> Subject: Re: How did people here learn GUIs
> John, you're correct about most people, but not about most computer
> professionals, especially not about computer programmers.
> My evidence is how Microsoft is now adding bash from Ubuntu to Windows
> 10. 
> All the programmers I know who use Windows are seriously jazzed about
> this new upgrade to Windows. Just imagine using apt-get to add some
> package ton the Windows command line environment.
> This has been an interesting thread. I'm looking forward to reading
> more.
> My own personal experience predates accessible Unix shell access. I say
> Unix, because Linux had not yet been invented. The only way to access a
> Unix shell in the 1980's was to have an account at some company or
> university, or to buy monthly access at some service like The Well, or
> eventually at netcom. Where I lived, that also meant paying for the
> modem call by the minute, because the calls from San Francisco to the
> Well, or to Netcom were intra latta calls, and were charged pretty hefty
> fees.
> But, this background is important, I think, because we didn't exactly
> have command line access at services like Compuserve, the Source, or
> Delphi Internet services. What we had was a menu of options. Sometimes
> the menu would be something you could arrow or tab through, sometimes it
> was just printed on screen and you had to type the command you wanted at
> the prompt.
> How is that like gui desktops? More primitive, yes, but it's object
> oriented. You select an object and activate it. Then, you do that again
> on the next screen. So, early gui was no problem from the conceptual
> point of view, because it was just a menu of options presented in
> hieroglyphs rather than words. Of course, those hieroglyphs--we learned
> to call them icons--weren't accessible because we didn't have a way to
> associate them with words. We had to do some serious advocacy to get the
> operating environment retrofitted in a way that would allow words to be
> associated with those icons.
> In the early days of gui accessibility several books in braille appeared
> designed to teach us this graphical environment. I remember a title from
> the U.K. called "Windows Explained" that came with wonderful graphic
> representations of various screens on Windows computers. If titles like
> that aren't available today, somebody should start writing. From the
> discussion here it's clear to me that a good, conceptual overview of how
> the gui works, along with some good braille graphics, would likely prove
> highly valuable. It would be even more valuable if it showed Microsoft,
> Apple, Chrome and Linux -- but I'm probably dreaming to ask for that
> much! <grin>
> PS: I got my first real cli when Netcom created a pop in San Francisco.
> The day I hear about that I signed up. I expected to find menus when I
> logged in, but no, I just got a shell prompt. I was flummoxed. I called
> for tech support, because the docs they sent in the mail were only in
> print. The owner of the company was doing his own tech support back
> then. When he realizaed I was blind, he showed me how to read usenet
> news groups and man pages. He promissed to help me if I got stuck, but
> with usenet and man in my skillset, I never had to call him again. This
> is a true story, but you were all asking about gui, not cli.
> Janina
> John J. Boyer writes:
>> My experience is that most blind people like a GUI with a screen reader 
>> better than the command line. Those who have teouble with GUIs, like me, 
>> seem to be decidedly in the minority.
>> John
>> On Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 12:29:39AM +0200, Anders Holmberg wrote:
>> > Hi!
>> > Thats intresting.
>> > I am the total oposit guy.
>> > I had and have no problems learning gui?s but for me the command line is to hard.
>> > Although i began with a debian command line system 16 years ago and gave that up for windows a couple of years.
>> > Now i am back to vinux and a mac with osx.
>> > I whish i was patient enough to learn command line.
>> > Maybe i am to dum or maybe i am lazy.
>> > /A
>> > > On 17 Jul 2016, at 22:57, Sam Hartman <hartmans at> wrote:
>> > > 
>> > >>>>>> "John" == John J Boyer <john.boyer at> writes:
>> > > 
>> > >    John> I';ve been trying to get a feel for GUIs for years. Sighted
>> > >    John> colleagues are no help. They only tell me how they use the
>> > >    John> mouse. They won't use a keyboard shourcut even when it is much
>> > >    John> simpler. For example, they will scroll down a long document
>> > >    John> instead of using ctrl+f to find something.  i've tried
>> > >    John> unsuccessfully tpo find a Jaws trainer. After I reinstalled
>> > >    John> Windows 7 recently Jaws wouldn't install. I'm now using NVDA
>> > >    John> and I don't think I'll go back to Jaws.
>> > > 
>> > > This is really interesting, because now I'm realizing that I don't know
>> > > how to teach someone GUIs on modern equipment at all.
>> > > I don't know  if I can find a solution, but I'll see if I can toss the
>> > > question around.
>> > > 
>> > > I hear your frustration completely about people who know one way of
>> > > doing something and who aren't even great at articulating that.
>> > > 
>> > > I started to say "well, understanding the mouse at least well enough to
>> > > get your screen reader to click places and stuff is worth knowing.
>> > > That's true of course, although I just realized that most of the screen
>> > > readers I use these days actually wouldn't let me click usefully on a
>> > > scroll bar if I wanted to.
>> > > So, even if you wanted to be incredibly slow, you can't get work done
>> > > just understanding the mouse operations.
>> > > 
>> > > Thanks for helping me understand an interesting challenge; I'll let you
>> > > know if I come up with anything that might help at all.
>> > > 
>> > > --Sam
>> > > 
>> > > _______________________________________________
>> > > Blinux-list mailing list
>> > > Blinux-list at
>> > >
>> > 
>> > 
>> > _______________________________________________
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>> >
>> -- 
>> John J. Boyer; President,
>> AbilitiesSoft, Inc.
>> Email: john.boyer at
>> Website:
>> Status: 501(C)(3) Nonprofit
>> Location: Madison, Wisconsin USA
>> Mission: To develop softwares and provide STEM services for people with
>>          disabilities which are available at no cost.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Blinux-list mailing list
>> Blinux-list at
> -- 
> Janina Sajka,	Phone:	+1.443.300.2200
> 			sip:janina at
> 		Email:	janina at
> Linux Foundation Fellow
> Executive Chair, Accessibility Workgroup:
> The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
> Chair, Accessible Platform Architectures
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