"Accessibility in Fedora Workstation" (fwd)

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at redhat.com
Tue Aug 16 19:02:35 UTC 2022

Hi Brian,
Thank you for providing this context.
What concerns me about your example is even greater.
Just how does a member of the general public, finding they must use a 
screen reader for any number of reasons, even learn they have such an 
option as that switch?

On Tue, 16 Aug 2022, Brian Buhrow wrote:

> 	hello.  Having participated in the debate with Microsoft about narrator, let me see if I
> can provide a bit of context.  When Microsoft began putting a real effort into Narrator, there
> wer  those of us who were concerned that it would put Freedom scientific out of business and,
> thus, potentially, remove accessibility choices for blind users, especially for folks who were
> currently employed using JAWS or, at the time, GW Micro.  Exhibit A was, and is, Apple with
> VoiceOver.  If you want to use Apple products with access technology your choice is, well,
> VoiceOver.  If it doesn't work for you, well then, tough on you.  That's also true of Android
> with Talkback and Brailleback.  Yes, Brltty works on Android, but it relies on the access
> provided by Talkback and Brailleback to get its data, so if Talkback and Brailleback can't see
> it, it isn't visible nonvisually.
> 	It takes a lot of effort to make a good screen reader and it takes even more effort to
> keep it running well.  The argument ran like this: if Microsoft put a huge amount of effort
> into getting Narrator working well, would they continue to provide the hooks and data Freedom
> Scientific and NVDA needed to make their products work?  And, what if Narrator was deemed good
> enough by Microsoft, but didn't work for folks who were trying to hold down jobs, but JAWS and,
> at the time GW Micro, couldn't  continue making their products function because they weren't
> getting what they needed from Microsoft?  what we said was we didn't want Microsoft to work on
> Narrator at the expense of continuing to develop and share their access API's with third party
> screen reader providers.
> 	While it's true the accessibility scene hasn't played out exactly as we described it in
> terms of the time frame we laid out, it is true that, over time, accessibility options for
> Windows users are dwindling.  Case and point, if you purchase the tablet version of Windows, or
> the stock home edition of Windows, by default, you cannot use any screen reader other than
> Narrator on that installation unless you flip a magic switch in that installation to enable the
> full Windows experience.  In addition to allowing third party screen readers, that switch also
> allows the installation of unsigned software outside of the Microsoft store.  Microsoft claims
> they will never disable the ability to flip that switch, but the fact that we are one switch
> away from not being able to use the screen reader of our choice on Windows, is, in my view, an
> erosion of access.  Remember, there was a time when Microsoft said it would never release a
> Windows version 11.
> 	So, while it may be that our message was mis-interpreted, and we may have not stated it as
> well as we should have, the goal of the message was, in fact, to expand accessibility choices,
> not to diminish them.
> -Brian

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