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How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)
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How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility" Setting (FOSDEM 2013)

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By Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias. …

By Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias.

Imagine trying to use your computer, tablet, or phone and being unable to: not due to a dead battery or lack of connectivity, but rather because there was some setting... somewhere... which you had to locate and enable on that device before you could use that device.

This unfortunate catch-22 is something that GNU/Linux users with disabilities have had to struggle with for years, because using the accessibility features of their environment required first enabling accessibility support for that environment -- or find someone to do so for them. And yet there was nothing these users could do to change this situation because enabling accessibility support by default would result in instability and performance degradation for all users.

GNOME has long felt that this was a condition which could not continue, and slowly but surely began identifying and tackling these issues. In 2012, things had improved to the point that the developer community felt confident that enabling accessibility support by default was something worth attempting. The end result: GNOME 3.6 was the first GNU/Linux graphical desktop environment to be released with no ""enable accessibility"" setting. For our users, accessibility is always on.

This talk will provide an overview of the steps we took to make our desktop environment immediately accessible to users with disabilities without any associated negative impact on other users. And it will include the specific steps you need to take to accomplish the same thing for the software you develop, because software freedom should include the freedom to ""just use"" your devices.

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  • 1. How GNOME Obsoleted its “Enable Accessibility” Setting Alejandro Piñeiro (apinheiro@igalia.com)
  • 2. Topics ● Accessibility vs. Accessibility Support ● Phase 1: Getting Started ● Phase 2: Rebuilding What We Had ● Phase 3: Achieving “Always On” Accessibility ● How Does This Affect Me? How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 3. Accessibility vs. Accessibility Support An extremely quick introduction
  • 4. Accessibility: removing barriers ● Themes and fonts ● Keyboard shortcuts ● Visual bells ● Assistive Technologies How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 5. Accessibility support: enabling access via ATs ● Screen Reader ● Screen Magnifier ● Navigation by on-screen keyboard ● Navigation by voice How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 6. Phase 1: Getting Started Creating an Accessible, Free Desktop
  • 7. Starting GNOME Accessibility ● Mar 1999: GNOME 1.0 release ● Oct 2000: “GNOME Accessibility Summit” – – – ● Sun, IBM, and others How to make an accessible Free Desktop Focus on GNOME 2.0 Jun 2002: GNOME 2.0 released How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 8. Bolted on; not built in ● Allowed to evolve independently ● Implemented as gmodule plugins – – ● gail atk-bridge Loaded conditionally at run-time based on an Accessibility “on/off” user setting How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 9. Plugin pros ● Support won't interfere when it is not needed ● No additional memory/CPU overhead (i.e. Hide the problems rather than fix them) How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 10. Plugin cons ● Tied to the session ● Loaded only at application start time ● Users need accessibility enabled in order to enable accessibility How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 11. Enabled by default in GNOME 2? ● ● Nov 2005: Accessibility enabled by default for development releases: ACCEPTED Jul 2008: Accessibility enabled by default for stable releases: REJECTED How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 12. “Still we have the problem that our current accessibility technology just sucks too much for being enabled by default.” -- desktop-devel-list commenter How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 13. Wait a moment ... ● Still “sucks too much” after eight years? ● Accessibility was seen as an optional add-on. ● The Accessibility Team was always small. ● And then ... How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 14. Perfect storm ● Corporate accessibility development stops – – ● Corporate “change of direction” Layoffs followed by takeovers GNOME 3 development starts How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 15. Phase 2: Rebuilding What We Had And taking the opportunity to make it better
  • 16. 2010: Rework existing support ● Bonobo deprecation ● AT-SPI over DBUS (AT-SPI2) ● GObject Introspection ● GSettings vs GConf How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 17. 2010: Implement new support ● New toolkits like Clutter ● New widgets in existing toolkits like Gtk+ 3 ● New desktops like GNOME Shell How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 18. 2011: Make improvements ● ● ● Fix regressions in the new and reworked code Improve toolkit a11y support, e.g. GtkTreeView Improve performance and stability How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 19. 2010-2011: Integrate modules ● Cally becomes part of Clutter ● Gail becomes part of GTK ● ATK implementations are now built-in ● But atk-bridge remained a plugin How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 20. Phase 3: Achieving “Always On” Accessibility It takes a community to obsolete a setting.
  • 21. 2012: “Year of Accessibility” ● ● ● Hackfest to plan further work, including accessibility enabled by default Developers to focus on significantly improving the accessibility stack Friends of GNOME Campaign to support additional development How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 22. What changed? ● Stability improvements ● Performance improvements ● Accessibility framework not sending/getting messages unless an AT is listening How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 23. Enabled by default in GNOME 3? ● Apr 2012: proposed again ● tl;dr: ACCEPTED How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 24. The conservative approach ● Proposed by the Accessibility Team ● Just change the default value of the setting ● Approved by the GNOME Community How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 25. The no-turning-back approach ● Proposed by Benjamin Otte & Bastien Nocera ● Make atk-bridge a library which toolkits link to ● Embraced by the community (who pitched in) ● Implemented as the solution How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 26. What's the difference? ● Not an add-on but an add-in ● For users: It JustWorks™ ● For developers: – – App accessibility is tested by everyone The atk-bridge is compiled by more developers How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 27. Is it working? ● Accessibility is always on as of GNOME 3.6. ● Distros are shipping it, users are using it. ● Developers have not suggested we undo it. ● We're finding and fixing bugs here and there. ● But...Yeah, it's working. How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 28. How Does This Affect Me? As a developer who wants to make my application or environment accessible
  • 29. Are you using GTK? ● If you are using GTK >= 3.6: – – ● GTK depends on the new library Your app should be accessible out of the box If you are using GTK2: – – These changes were not backported The setting was kept in GNOME 3 for such apps How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 30. Any other toolkit/application? ● ● Assuming that you already have an ATK implementation for your widgets ... You only need to use at-spi2-bridge library – – ● Add the dependency Call an init method GNOME Shell's patch: – 16 insertions, 199 deletions How GNOME Obsoleted its "Enable Accessibility Setting" | Alejandro Piñeiro | apinheiro@igalia.com
  • 31. Questions?

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