[Hudlug] Re: Call to action to help disabled users added to HUDLUG Wiki

Ben Fowler ben.the.mole at gmail.com
Tue Apr 11 07:48:56 BST 2006

On 11/04/06, M. Fioretti <mfioretti at mclink.it> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 05, 2006 12:08:28 PM +0100, Ben Fowler
> > P.S. Do you want these discussion copied to our mailing list?
> The original text is pasted below. I would really appreciate if you
> could also post it to your mailing list, so we can both have a live
> version (*) and a direct link to the original one.
> [ snip ]
> #################################################################
> Open Letter: how the FOSS community may help disabled users
> by Marco Fioretti, mfioretti, @, mclink.it
> I rencently wrote an article about the serious communication problems
> between the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) community and disabled
> users [1]. I have asked to the Huddersfield Linux Users Group to
> publish this open letter on the same subject because I have no
> permanent web address right now where it could be posted, and because
> I wanted to draw attention to the excellent job they are doing in this
> field.
> My article has been both attacked and praised on many mailing
> lists. It has also been criticized on Groklaw [2], because I would be
> out of the loop and discussed on Slashdot [3]. I have a few quick
> comments about this, and above all a proposal for all FOSS supporters
> worldwide.
> First of all, the world is much' bigger than Massachusetts, or USA for
> that matter. The stories I reported show that it is the majority of
> disabled people to still be, or be left, out of the loop. This is also
> proved by other stories from disabled users.
> Second, I explicitly criticized the attitude of the FOSS
> community. Not the current corporate efforts to make FOSS or
> OpenDocument accessible. Of course, there are some wonderful
> exceptions and the Huddersfield LUG is one of them. But the many, er,
> "aristocratic" comments on Slashdot and elsewhere just prove I was
> right, and that when FOSS will become accessible, it probably won't be
> thanks to some wonderful "community" of users.
> Third, any variant of "we don't owe anything to disabled users, if
> they want FOSS to work for them they should contribute real money or
> code" is technically right, but could quickly make FOSS
> irrelevant. Accessibility is (rightly) mandatory in government
> contracts.
> Now comes the proposal. Less than one day later the article had been
> published, my mailbox was already full of excellent, articulated
> proofs that FOSS, OpenDocument and open standards are the best thing
> that could ever happen to disabled users. Thanks, but unfortunately
> all these proofs contain two mistakes.
> The first is that you are really wasting your time explaining all this
> to me. I already know it. I agree with you. In my article, I already
> criticized disabled users for not paying enough attention for the
> limitations to their rights caused by proprietary software and
> formats. So tell all this to the right people. Go to them, and work
> with them, just like, as I discovered thanks to my article, the
> members of the Huddersfield LUG are already doing. Make their work the
> rule, not the exception.
> December 3rd is the UN International Day of Disabled Persons: I
> friendly challenge all FOSS advocates to act to narrow this gap. Free
> SW is too important to exclude anybody. Get out in the streets, find
> the closest association of disabled users and do something FOSSy
> together, not later that that day: talks, dedicated install fests,
> whatever... Just act (and of course let me know!), but please avoid
> the second mistake: don't use the same arguments and language normally
> used among programmers. They're correct, but remember that most human
> beings (disabled or not) would rather take laxatives than touch source
> code, and nobody should treat them as inferior people for this.
> Best Regards,
> Marco Fioretti
> [1] http://software.newsforge.com/software/06/03/13/1628249.shtml?tid=150
> [2] http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20060319121128416
> [3] http://developers.slashdot.org/developers/06/03/19/0726241.shtml
> [4] http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=180680&cid=14951238

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