Accessibility (was Re: [Gllug] Argos site)

Dave Jones davej at
Wed Jul 31 17:28:27 UTC 2002

On Wed, Jul 31, 2002 at 06:10:06PM +0100, Simon Stewart wrote:

 > > Linux is aparently coming on in leaps and bounds in terms of
 > > accessability, but there's still a whole bunch of areas that need
 > > improving, both in kernel space, and userspace.
 > Care to go into a little more detail, Dave? Especially about the
 > kernel side of things?

It's mostly things like better driver support for some of the
stranger output devices. The good thing is that the code for
lots of these already exists, and just needs cleaning up a lot.
Alan (Cox) has been doing some of the clean up on these
drivers in his 2.4 tree.

Other issues are things like what happens if the kernel 
panics for some reason before the output driver is initialised ?
*I* think it's a real pain when I get a crash before the
console initialises and I have to go dig out the serial cable,
wire up a serial console etc.. to a blind person it must be
a nightmare.  The 'big console layer shake up' in 2.5
is fixing this by enabling the console at an earlier stage,
and earlier initialisation of output devices. It's still largely
in a state of flux, and is mostly untested in environments
such as braille devices etc.

Another area thats been improved is the framebuffer support.
Complete blindness isn't the only form of disability in the
visual impairment area, and some folks can actually see and
read the screen if for eg the fonts are larger, or wider
spaced, so there's been various rendering improvements in
this area, but no actual work (that I'm aware of) to do things
like double height fonts.

Most of it is pretty basic stuff, that's in the blindingly
obvious "Yeah, thats a really good idea" dept. It just
needs someone with time and motivation to do it.

Userspace wise, more distros need to take notice of issues
like these. To the best of my knowledge, we're still the
only distro that ships the braille output drivers for eg.
Whilst this is good in the sense the more people buying
SuSE the more the company I work for is sustained, I believe
in the power of choice, and we shouldn't be the only option
for blind/visually impaired users.


| Dave Jones.
| SuSE Labs

Gllug mailing list  -  Gllug at

More information about the GLLUG mailing list