GNOME 3 accessibility: State of the Union (GUADEC 2012)

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Information about GNOME 3 accessibility: State of the Union (GUADEC 2012)

Published on February 15, 2014

Author: igalia



By Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias.

When GNOME 3.0 was released in April 2011, it had lots of shine but very little accessibility, despite the best efforts of the GNOME developers. In the year since that release, the GNOME Foundation and the Accessibility Team have been working hard to address these problems and to make GNOME 3 at least as accessible as GNOME 2 -- and hopefully even better.

In April 2012 GNOME 3.4 was released with greatly enhanced accessibility support in GNOME Shell along with improved performance and stability of Orca and other components.

This presentation will provide attendees with:
* A brief introduction to GNOME accessibility
* An explanation of the improvements made since GNOME 3.0
* The status of GNOME 3.4
* The results of the two ATK/AT-SPI2 hackfests
* Our plans for GNOME 3.6 and beyond
* ATK/AT-SPI2 implementations in other free desktop environments

GNOME 3 accessibility: State of the union Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias


Accessibility 101 ● Equal access to software & information for all users ● Modified or alternative interaction and presentation

Why? ● Right thing to do for us and for our users ● Required to fulfill accessibility guidelines ● It increases your user base

“If you’re not accessible, you lose sales and reputation” Marco Zehe, accessibility developer


GNOME 3.2 ● Accessibility was still work in progress ● Improvements at the low level ● Accessibility bugs in core applications still present ● Accessibility team small, but regrouping ● Fallback mode was usable, GNOME-Shell not ● Roadmap: Good progress on the 3.0 goals

ATK/AT-SPI2 Hackfest Photo by Mario Sánchez (License CC BY-SA 2.0)

ATK/AT-SPI2 Hackfest 2012 ● Cross-desktop hackfest ● Augmented, consistently-implemented accessibility ● ● Stop to use the bridge as a module/plugin ● ● Best practices guide Debate/prioritize tasks Defined the work to be done for following releases

GNOME 3.4 ● First one that Orca users could use GNOME Shell ● Orca users reporting bugs ● Orca noticeable more performant ● Magnifier configuration dialog added

GNOME 3.4 ● Team still small, but stable ● Roadmap ● Performance improvement ● ATK support improved on GNOME-Shell and toolkits


GNOME 3.6 ● Brightness, contrast and inversion ● Focus and caret tracking in GNOME-Shell Magnifier ● Accessibility always on

GNOME 3.6 ● Team remains small, but high motivation ● Roadmap: ● Augmented accessibility ● BUT: continued lack of ATs for users with other disabilities ● BUT: some core apps still lack proper support

Magnifier features

Accessibility always on ● Was a setting change, became a library ● Not an add-on but an add-in ● For users: It JustWorks(tm) ● For developers: ● App accessibility gets tested by everyone ● Dragons ahead ● Start testing NOW!

GNOME 3.X: What we need to succeed ● No significant core changes ● Continued present investment in accessibility ● Additional investment: ● Fix current accessibility bugs in core apps ● Prevent future accessibility regressions ● Create and/or port tools for users with other disabilities

GUADEC 2012 - A11yCamp Photo by Alberto García (License CC BY-SA 2.0)

GUADEC 2012 - A11yCamp ● Two day unconference, but with some agenda ● ● Day2: mostly accessibility team work ● ● Day1: mostly cross team collaboration Regardless of your schedule, show up! Where and when? ● Room 2.0a ● Jul 30th (Monday) and Jul 31th (Tuesday)

Relationship with the community

Old times ● Usual suspects: just a bunch of people were doing accessibility work ● Usual suspects2: just a bunch of people were taking care of accessibility status ● Accessibility team was like the “accessibility police”

Lately: Awareness ● Toolkits/module maintainers not only reviewing, they are also providing accessibility related code ● Interest to know how to report accessibility bugs ● Accessibility took into account since the early stages of new features and designs

Poster boy

Friends of GNOME “Help make 2012 the Year of Accessibility for GNOME!”


A summary?

Conclusions ● We have a running GNOME accessibility framework ● We have users and a motivated team ● All the GNOME community involved ● BUT: Not enough ATs, small team

Contact and links ● gnome-accessibility-list at ● gnome-accessibility-devel at ●

Questions? Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias

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