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Re: MATE chosen by default instead of gnome for blind people [Was: Debian Installer Stretch Alpha 6 release]

Samuel Thibault <sthibault@debian.org> writes:

> Mario Lang, on Sun 22 May 2016 21:56:00 +0200, wrote:
>> What I am trying to say is, if a desktop wants to provide Accessibility
>> that is actually useful to users, they will have to invest more time
>> into it then they currently are willing to do.
> Well, perhaps it's not a question of time, but of methodology.

I was mixing a few things up here, you are right.

>>  * Do some real usability testing with blind users.
>>    Unsupervised solo experiments do often lead to very vague and emotional results.
> Yes, I'd say that's why the lack of precise feedback for gnome: users
> are simply lost in the new interface, and can't provide anything useful.

Yes, I think this sums it up quite nicely.  At least I am currently not
able to submit any sort of meaningful bugreports, because I never know
if what happened was expected behaviour or something that could/should
be changed.

> I'd say it's perhaps unfair to suggest that
> gnome maintainers need to spend more time than they already do (I don't
> know if we know how much they do), and that the issue is rather that
> there is no face-to-face feedback?

I don't want to be unfair to anyone.  But on the other hand, I think we
need a way of being able to express deficiencies.

> Also, is there a guide for blind people new to gnome3, teaching how the
> interface is working?  If there is one, we need to point to it from
> the debian accessibility wiki.

I would be very much interested in that.
GNOME2 had nice things like a keyboard shortcut manual.  That already
brought you 50% down the road.

> If there is none, then that's possibly simply what Jean-Philippe and
> Mario are lacking?

Which is a symptom of what I was trying to say above: If a new interface
needs special explanation for blind people to be useable, writing and
promoting that explanation is part of making the system accessible.  If that
documentation does not exist, or is not well known, well,
people perhaps need to spend more time on accessibility :-)

And, I also question intuitivity: If such documentation is necessary,
the system isn't really inherently "accessible" from a usability
stand-point.  Put in other words, why is such documentation even
Perhaps it would be enough to have Orca (or some other GNOME component)
announce some essential key bindings once the desktop pups up the first time.

> One issue when introducing a completely different way to interact with
> the desktop, as gnome3 did, is that it introduces new concepts.  These
> concepts are typically designed for sighted people first (I'm not
> saying that gnome3 did it this way, I don't know, I only guess that's
> probably how it happened), and are thus made to be intuitive for
> sighted people.  Maintainers then forget that they are probably not
> intuitive for non-sighed people, and the new concepts thus *have* to
> be explained to them.

And this is exactly what parts of my original mail were trying to say.
If you design a new system, and add accessibility as an afterthought,
you inherit all sorts of problems, as you nicely put in the paragraph
That is why I think the approach of adding accessibility as an
afterthought during development of new concepts if a *fundamentally*
flawed approach.  It is how things have been done in the past, granted.
But in my opinion, this has to change some day.
We (as a global society) need to find ways to move towards making
accessibility a first-class requirement.  And I am not simply saying
this because I am a potential user.  I am saying this because I am
convinced that technology should be used to enable people.  Technology
is our one true chance to conteract the negative effects of disabilities.

> And I'd say you can not write a guide explaining the new concepts
> without actually discussing face-to-face with a really blind user who
> never *saw* the new interface, so that he pinpoints the things which
> need to be explicited because they are not obvious when you can't see
> (and that you can not un-understand once you have understood them, and
> thus would forget to mention them). That "freshman" step is required,
> I believe.

I tend to agree, insofar as such a probject would definitely be helfpul.
but... Sometimes, you can go a long way by thinking
about how to use your system with a keyboard only.  Because this is how
blind people interact with a desktop.  If you can write a guide which
explains how to use GNOME3 without a mouse, I think you would go a
*long* way towards an accessibility guide.  Ideally, a good system
should be self-explanatory insofar as a list of control commands should
be enough to more or less explain how to use it.  This is true for
things like VoiceOver on iOS.  I didn't need much more then a list of
VoiceOver gestures to learn iOS.  I never read a manual or any sort of
documentation.  The interface, combined with my knowledge of which
keys/gestures I am supposed to use to control it, should be enough to
explain how it works.  If that is not enough, I am questioning the
usefulness of the system as a whole, at least when it comes to a basic
desktops.  Specific applications of course, are a different topic.


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