View Full Version : Ubuntu Forum access support team

September 4th, 2006, 02:48 PM
Hello good people of the Ubuntu Forums!

I am the Ubuntu Accessibility Coordinator. A few months ago we stared a forum section specifically for accessibility topics (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=145). I'm glad to see that it's proven quite successful, with a bit of technical discussion and a good number of new users support requests. It's a great place for people to come and ask questions on this topic and share their experiences. There is a problem though in that it is slightly isolated from the rest of the forums. Simple questions that would get very quick answers elsewhere may go unanswered because very few members of the general forum population browse the section, probably thinking it's too specialised.

Since many of the new users we see there are simply new to Linux we get the standard Linux questions like "How do I install this program?", or hardware related questions regarding sound and such. Some of these I can manage myself, but I don't have all these answers at my fingertips (with Ubuntu being a large an complex topic as you know) and I'd like to spend as much time as possible actually improving the accessibility features. When we release Edgy with what looks to be some pretty good accessibility support we may well see a large jump in disabled newbie users trying it out. That's great of course, but I worry that the support offering might implode :/

And it's a real shame to see these questions go unanswered when we know that a) there are thousands of people around the forums able to answer them well and b) the users who ask them face serious challenges in actually using their computers to start with. Simple things like looking up documentation, finding an application, etc. can be a huge challenge for what are mainly visually impaired users. Broken sound is just annoying for most people but for a visually impaired person it can be a complete show-stopper in making the transition to Ubuntu. If you can live without sound for long enough to find and apply the solution then you can work through that issue, but if you need sound to use the computer at all, via speech synthesis software then you are just stuck (and return to Windows ...).

So I'm asking for some support from other ubuntu forum members to provide some general technical advice in the accessibility section. There is no need to know anything about accessibility issues or the specialised tools, but just basic Linux/Ubuntu stuff. It can all be quite informal with some people just stopping by or we can form an access support team.

You might say that we could just post a sticky saying that if users have standard Ubuntu questions that they should go to the beginners section, but I don't like that solution in this particular case. It can be difficult to know when an issue is 'standard' and when it's related to the access tools, esp. for a newbie. The newbie section is huge and most people answering questions there would not immediately realise that the person asking is in a special situation. So you might need several rounds just to clarify that issue. I'd like to build a friendly and supportive community in the access forum section where people can bring questions of different kinds, both general Ubuntu ones as well as questions related to the the accessibility tools.

Can anyone here lend a hand with that?