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Re: [to all candidates] Accessible software in Debian

On 2013-03-18 14:37, Mario Lang wrote:
While discussing this topic on IRC with other Debian people I was kind of shocked to read that basically every feature can be dropped anytime, and since accessibility is for a very small user group, that user group
suffering from big rewrites is "normal" and acceptable.

I can appreciate the frustrations here. Within the DebConf organisation we've tried hard to make sure that the conferences are as accessible as possible, but individual small decisions by people who don't pay attention to these issues can easily spoil a whole event. In the same way, for an accessible desktop we need every upstream maintainer to pay attention to these issues, and one change that doesn't take account of accessibility can make a program useless to many people.

Sadly I don't think we have the resources to fix every upstream project and send patches. Nor can we just throw out every piece of software that is not accessible to everyone, which probably wouldn't leave us with much at all.

But clearly accessibility should be part of our decisions about what software is "default", and should inform, for example, decisions about when we keep new and old versions of a package around in parallel rather than only the latest release. (It's quite possible that a new version will be more accessible to one group, but less accessible to another.)

Do you have any ideas what we could do to raise awareness of
accessibility issues, and maybe motivate developers who are currently
not into accessibiility work in any way, to start caring about various
issues around accessibility for people with disabilities.

A couple of things I can see that we might be able to do better:

- provide a stronger Debian voice to call for good accessibility support, e.g. at developer events for upstream projects

- make sure that accessibility is kept as a headline topic in Debian discussions: there may be lessons here to learn from Christian Perrier's methods of promoting the need for translation over the years

- track in a more public way packages' accessibility status, both to help users filter software that will work for them, and to help contributors find areas they can help improve.

As someone who knows a lot more about these topics than I do, do you have concrete ideas of things you would like to see us doing as a project?


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