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Thread: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

  1. #1
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    A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    I do not know where to post this message. I posted this on the Ubuntu Facebook page, and I will post it below as well. If you know of someone who could influence this for the better, please share it with them. I am just a distraught user with a small voice, but I hope that someone hears me.

    I am not writing this message with any ill intent, and I certainly do not at all wish to seem irate.

    I do not know if this will be seen by anyone who can make a difference, but I want to leave a message here just in case.

    I am a former low-vision Ubuntu user. Ubuntu has a very special place in my heart; it was the first Linux distribution which I came to know and love as a solid, stable alternative to proprietary alternatives on the market. Ubuntu is what I used throughout my college career. It is the operating system which I wanted to stick with for the long-haul.

    Over the past two years, I have been put in Linux Limbo. When I first started using Ubuntu, I began to work with the Compiz Window Manager's eZoom plugin which allowed me to literally magnify my screen, making it so that I could fully access my system. Things were wonderful. Unity came into the picture, and I was excited to try out a new desktop environment. I felt that Unity was a wonderful environment in which to work. The eZoom plugin for Compiz worked very well in Unity 2D, but not so well at all in Unity 3D. Then the bad news came about: Unity 2D was being discontinued.

    You have a very elegant operating system, but myself as well as many other visually impaired users have been tossed out. For the past two years, I have been living in Linux Limbo. I know that there are distributions for blind users out there, but I am the only blind member in my family, and I would rather use Ubuntu.

    It was brought to my attention that there may not be a magnifier in upcoming versions of Ubuntu.

    I am not writing this as an advocate for the visually impaired community (but there are many who are very disappointed in what is going on in the area of accessibility within Ubuntu), but rather as a saddened and concerned user. I felt at home using Ubuntu, but now it seems as though there is nothing to come back to.

    You have some wonderful people who work with you who want to make Ubuntu accessible, but they have very limited resources. I am writing today to kindly and humbly ask you if you would please do something about this. There are visually impaired individuals around the world who truly depend on Ubuntu because ti is solid and user-friendly, but they have no idea where to go because they are being left behind.

    Would you please stop for a moment and consider these users, of which I am one, who cannot afford proprietary assistive technologies, and who have stuck with your operating system because of the philosophy which it once stood for--"humanity toward others"

    I believe that innovation is a wonderful thing. Thee is so much technology out there that can be used to make your operating system accessible to the blind. Please do not let it go to waste.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you know someone who could make a difference in bringing Ubuntu back to us blind users, would you please share this with them.

    Kind regards,

    Bob
    Proud visually impaired user of Ubuntu.
    Member of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team
    Registered Linux User #423082

  2. #2
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    RKCole, I second that. But it seems nobody is interested. That's why I'm using Windows with the integrated magnifier. It works best for me and I don't need any expensive accessibility software.
    Linux is like a wigwam: no gates, no windows and Apache inside. (Chinese proverb c. 910 B.C.)

  3. #3
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    linbetwin,

    Thank you for your rreply. It is nice to know that someone here feels the same way that I do.

    It sure seems to be the case, doesn't it? There are some wonderful people who are doing there best to work on Ubuntu accessibility, but if Canonical doesn't care about it and doe snto support it, those individuals are really strapped for resources. I cannot explain how alienated this makes me feel. Ever since 2005, I was a promoter of Ubuntu. I would give out CDs at my college and let just about anyone who had an inteerst know about it.

    I am not upset with the Accessibility Team as this is definitely not their fault. It is because of their efforts that I still hold hope that things will get better in the future.

    I regret that I have to put it this way, but so much for "humanity toward others"...that was one of the things that drew me to Ubuntu in the first place back in 2005. Once the money starts flowing in and once companies obtain a good name in the market, they oftentimes tend to forget about those who were a part of the foundation and they then turn their focus upon methods with which they may be able to transform streams of income into oceans of success. What a tremendous shame that this appears to be the case...

    I am still going to hold some hope that things will turn back to the way they were somewhere down the line. I still prefer to use Linux rather than Windows, and for the time being, until Ubuntu's gates are once again open to people like me, I guess I will be living in Fedora.

    For those who may be reading this who feel as though I am being an "Ubuntu hater", this is most definitely not the case. The fact of the matter is, I simply feel as though I have been forced out of my home as far as operating systems are concerned. This whole ordeal is really quite disconcerting.
    Proud visually impaired user of Ubuntu.
    Member of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team
    Registered Linux User #423082

  4. #4
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    Quote Originally Posted by RKCole View Post
    It was brought to my attention that there may not be a magnifier in upcoming versions of Ubuntu.
    A link to that announcement/e-mail/meeting would be helpful. I'm curious who made such a decision, and when. Could this simply be a false rumor? Or a trial balloon?

    For example, I recall no such discussion among the Ubuntu Desktop Team e-mail list...and making the desktop less accessible would be an important issue for them to discuss.

    I don't recall such a decision coming from the last Ubuntu Developer Summit. Perhaps I missed it, but reducing accessibility would certainly be discussed there.

  5. #5
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesehead View Post
    A link to that announcement/e-mail/meeting would be helpful. I'm curious who made such a decision, and when. Could this simply be a false rumor? Or a trial balloon?
    ....
    +1

    It is good practice to cite one's sources. It adds value to your plea.

    OP, please oblige
    de gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum -- Wiktionary

  6. #6
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    I feel a need to point out that the developers rarely visit these forums. Therefore, anything posted here is unlikely to get their attention.

    That, rather than a lack of interest, might explain why there's been no response.
    Please, people, remember to BACKUP before you install that new system. Same if you're upgrading.

  7. #7
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    Here is a link to the Ubuntu-Accessibility mailing list thread which has this topic in discussion:
    https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ub...ay/006418.html

    In this thread I had asked about the magnifier issue which was taking palce with Unity 3D as Unity 2D was to be discontinued. In this response, Luke Yelavich stated:

    Yes, this is still a problem, and won't be solved with the current Compiz+unity code base. At this point I don't know whether a magnifier will be written for the new Unity rewrite in 14.04 either. I will try to push for one, but no promises.
    This is basically the last I have heard of the issue. Now maybe things have changed. If that is the case, then this posting would no longer be necessary. But one way or the other, I really have no idea if the issue has been addressed or not.

    I am very grateful for those, like Luke and others, who are pushing for the furtherance of accessibility. Unity si one of my desktops of choice alongside GNOME Shell. The thought of Unity being inaccessible is really heartbreaking in a sense.

    There are many individuals, including myself, who rely upon screen magnification. I also rely upon the Orca screen reader. typically, in order to get the latest fixes and features for the Orca screen reader, one would have to either compile Orca, AT-SPI2, etc, or one would need to use the latest version of Ubuntu or other distribution of choice. Since I use the Orca screen reader in conjunction with a screen magnifier, it is important for me to keep an up-to-date version of Orca.

    Being that this problem is Unity related, do any of you know if GNOME Shell is availabe alongisde Unity on the Ubuntu CDs? It has been nearly two years since I have used Ubuntu because it is basically not too accessible to me any more...

    Anyhow, the above links are the resources which I am able to provide to show that my claim and plea is not altogether made up. I apologize for not providing the links originally; honestly, the idea slipped my mind.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and for taking the time to respond!

    Kind regards.
    Proud visually impaired user of Ubuntu.
    Member of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team
    Registered Linux User #423082

  8. #8
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    Okay, so Luke was giving a developer-point-of-view.
    That is not a we-are-forever-turning-our-backs-on-accessibility response, nor a this-problem-cannot-be-solved response.
    Instead, it seems like an explanation of the reasons for the problem.

    A bit of searching around the mailing list and the Ubuntu Repositories came up with three screen-magnifier candidates:
    xzoom (which works on all X desktops)
    kwin (for KDE)
    eZoom (not in the Ubuntu repositories)
    There are hints of more out there.
    Can any of these be used/adapted/configured to meet the need you have identified? That's a question you on the Accessibility Team must test and answer.

    Alternately, anyone from the community with the appropriate skills certainly can write a compiz-compatible screen magnifier. If you, as a Team, feel it's worthwhile, then try to recruit someone from the community to write it for you.

    Once you identify how you want to fill the need, then the Accessibility Team should contact the Desktop Team to ensure that the package (and any customizing patches) get into the default install. I'm sure you knew that already....

    This seems like a solvable problem. Several solutions are possible. You and the Accessibility Team should to come up with a preferred solution that is within your resources. Organize a meeting, discuss the alternatives, and hash it out.
    Last edited by Cheesehead; July 13th, 2013 at 04:02 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    Thank you for the response, Cheesehead.

    The information which you provided is much appreciated.

    I had signed up as a member of the Ubuntu Accessibility team several years ago (maybe in 2007), but because I am only an end user, I felt quite inadequate to do anything. Honestly, I do not know a whole lot about compilation and about how to make certain applications and/or platforms work with other parts fo the system. This is something which I really wish that I could learn.

    I do know, however, that there is an organization called the Accessible Computing Foudnation who has an ultimate goal fo bridging the gap between accessibility and technology.

    I am hoping that, with proper guidance and learning from the right resources, I can in some way contribute more than by just writing. I most certainly want to see Ubuntu (or any other distro for that amtter) be as robust, yet accessible, as can be.

    Thanks again for all of your input.

    Take care.
    Proud visually impaired user of Ubuntu.
    Member of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team
    Registered Linux User #423082

  10. #10
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    Re: A Plea to Ubuntu Developers

    I too am a low vision user of Ubuntu-based distros currently in Ubuntu limbo trying out different versions of Ubuntu distros. Ubuntu's current priorities seem to be aiming, from what I understand, in the direction of mobile devices. Mobile devices are generally very small and unfriendly for people with low vision. So it sounds like, Ubuntu's main concern is young, healthy eyes and eyes of people who are not impaired. So this is the direction that Canonical Inc./Ubuntu in general seems to be heading. Just something to keep in mind.

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