First Post here on Mint - so please be nice
But, what I am about to say will be a spanner in the works for some Guru Types who have never had to consider anything beyond their own interfaces.
Addressing Disability Access is not just Braille - High Contrast - and installing a screen reader.
I have been dealing with that subject of interfaces and desktops for 25 years since my University days - and it's odd how the basic work done then has been ignored so recently. Maybe it's because I studied both Psychology and I.T. that I can see the issues that are not just code.
For some end users Gnome 3 is great - and for others it's Hell! Unity causes multiple disability accessibility issues due to not being adaptable and so 12.04 will be the end for many. The commercial focus of some is crippling and disabling.
I have found it both interesting and "Irksome" to read the following:
Ideas that are not generated 'at the core' have to fight incredibly and unnecessarily hard to get oxygen… getting room for ideas to be explored should not feel like a frontal assault on a machine gun post. This is no way to lead a project. This is a recipe for a project that loses great people to environments that are more open to different ways of seeing the world ...Source
I have been watching the big debate over desktops with keen interest. Not because I like eye candy, but due to some very basic accessibility issues. I'm disabled and my home systems are a life line. I dumped the Redmond offerings some years ago due to the mix of costs and lack of adaptability. I have been evangelical in promoting Linux for over 10 years. I'm no Guru - but I do know how to make a desktop and interface do what people need and to allow them Equality of access. I'm not a programmer - just an Uber Power User where it's the interface and it's accessibility that takes priority.
I have been slowly converting people over many years from the Redmond side to Linux - dealing with people's access needs and adapting OS's to provide them with independent access that is about them - not some design meme that is hard coded to meet other people's views and aims. It has been hard to get any Oxygen - and it times some have attempted to deny all oxygen by either throttling you or burying you in mountains of Bull Crap! Aqualungs have proved very useful.
I hear a great deal about "Baby duck yndrome
", and for some they do have an operating system imprinted upon them. Removing it or altering it is the same as Matricide. However, there is a lot more to altering an interface and desktop that goes well beyond Baby Ducks - and I have had to deal with some real turkeys and a few ostriches that definitely have their head stuck in the sand - if not unspecified orifices.
Even Redmond have been allowing Classic Menus as a readily accessible option since 98 - not because they are nice people, it has been driven by commercially astute practices.... and Boy the number of people I know who are still on classic menus 15 years later.
"We think it's pretty and we want it only there", is not a good reason when such fixed mindsets deny others access to the primary parts of an OS.
I have been basing much of the adaptation over the last 5 years or so on Ubuntu for two reasons - 1. the LTS inspires confidence in end users 2. The basics have all been good.
Gnome 2 beat the pants of KDE and the diversity of software was better than other desktops. I know that you can run many programs across all desktop distros - but the integration into a unified and well presented desktop experience is an issue for many - especially people with Neurodiversity disabilities that affect vision and visual processing. Just try getting someone with specific disabilities to grasp that Xsol and AisleRiot are the same when visually the differences are so great that it's like saying a Human and a Fish are the same because they can both swim!
Some people have the ability to recognise things as similar or even the same - some lack that basic capacity and need careful adaptation and interface management/design to over come that impairment.
Being able to take a single PC and adapt it to multiple needs is a godsend - and as the nature of disability alters from person to person, that adaptability is the most important thing there is. Compiz cube with a set of virtual boxes does allow many people ready access to a system. Seamless XP with Dragon Dictate is a miracle to many - even if it means some cutting and pasting. There is a ready market for second hand software in the Redmond style which meets needs and which can be integrated into Linux via VBox. Wine just does not work for some applications.
Being able to recycle older systems into highly utile and accessible systems to meet specific disabilities and needs addresses many issues - the most common of which is Cost! Disability brings many forms of poverty - and not just in cash. Poverty of accessibility to I.T. is a growing and massive issue.
For some, basic I.T. hardware, software and adaptations under Redmond can run to many thousands of pounds - and yet with an older system - some judicious upgrades and Linux it can be only a few Hundred pounds - if that. One associate was quoted £1700.00 for a Redmond based upgrade - and under Linux, adapting the existing system the actual cost was £0.00 - and about 12 hours work for me. The system was faster and gave them a further guaranteed 3 years of access.
Then along comes Unity and all the messing about over Gnome 3 - classic fall back and very big questions about the future.
So a top panel is not a big issue?
Unity is great?
Try telling that to someone who has a complex mix of physical and Neurodiversity disability, where even recognising that the left side of the screen exists is a massive issue. NO assistive technology is of use - you need the primary access elements of the system, such as launchers, on the right hand side of the screen - Full Stop!
You have two adaptations you can make - turn the monitor upside-down - or hang the user upside-down from the ceiling .... but neither is seen as a Reasonable Adjustment to their need - and it also just increases the accessibility issues in other areas. <Sarcasm>
Change the mouse sensitivity cry some - but if you already have restrictive movement and your primary use of system is text editing - changing the sensitivity to make it easier to get to a fixed launcher on the left buggers up the accessibility set up for text editing.
And the stacking of windows.... you need to have three Browser Windows open to allow rational spatial grasp of information, and tabbed browsing just does not work for you.... so a proper unadulterated Window List is the only option - no docky or awn - just a very boring and plain old fashioned List of windows.....
I have been very interested in reading that some Linux Gurus who adopted Unity have actually migrated away after a period of time. They found that they were actually using the mouse more and loosing keyboard skills - as one put it Unity was just making them lazy and the only cure was to leave it behind. I have even read of some who have noted increased mouse travel - clicks and keyboard usage bringing on aches and pains - possible early onset RSI.
Unity is great for touch screens of reduced size and tablets - but for someone with a fixed desktop set up, adapted to accessibility.... well it's a crock!
There are some end users who are more than capable of specific forms of maintenance and upgrading, and others who need 100% support - but the changes being enforced under 12.04 mean that for many unless they hold Guru Status they will loose much and have to start all over again. Thank heavens that 10.04 will be supported from a further 12 months. It's going to be a busy time as people migrate.
That Fixed Unity Panel is, in my opinion, a breach of UK Equality Law (Equality Act 2010 - sections 19,20 and 29
- as highlighted by
- Equality And Human Rights Commission), It simply ignores that for some people having that panel on the right hand side is a necessity - and not an aesthetic choice. As Ubuntu presently allows choice and that choice is being removed for "Commercial" and "Aesthetic" reasons it is not rational or reasonable - it is Indirect Discrimination.
It's almost as if the majority of programmers on Unity are of the Sinister group and all left handed.
The bias is almost like revenge!
Yes - there is Gnome Classic, but why should people be denied an accessible Unity option?
It's quite basic. Unity Panel fixed to left denies "Reasonable Adjustment". It is not upto some Community Guru to provide a hack to address it - it is the people who made a decision to ignore their legal obligations.... and they have had long enough to get with the programming and hacking.
Equally - people are driven crazy by having familiar visual I.T. Memes altered - such as loosing the normal window menus and having to deal with that accursed top bar! If that is to be optional, it should be an option in the installation process and not an issue that people are driven crazy by after instillation as they attempt to figure out how to make a system meet their needs. Having to spend days trawling the net - being told to use the command line - type odd strings ad infinitum and all whilst you are still wondering how to get a chat client up and running to tell other folks you are dealing with an I.T. snafuuuuu.... not fun!
I have done a dry run with 12.04 to see how some will cope. The changes are so Drastic under Unity, and even failing under classic fall back, that basic accessibility with mouse and keyboard are issues that need to be addressed. It does not look like they will be - so it's Ta Ta to Ubuntu and off to explore the wider oceans of Linux..... most likely with a refreshing Minty tang!
Trying to get sense out of Canonical and even find who to address matters to is even crazier.... and it would seem that they have been missing issues due to the diversity of people they employ, by diverse means, across diverse countries with diverse legal systems. When you ask for the name of the person in charge of policy for the Company they don't seem to have a single person - and then they scramble across the net looking for anyone who may be a safe bet.... from the USA - or is it Germany... or maybe ...... Fill in the gap!
There are so many issues .... I could write a thesis on them, and still be working on it for ten years.
I have seen a number of people raise the accessibility issues over Unity, and have NOT
been happy when a "certain person" made it clear that the left side was fixed for "Branding" purposes and wanting a "Logo" to be displayed in a certain way. I get the commercial aspect and design - but that does not override the obligations for equality of access due to disability. Tut Tut
Giving Unity Priority over other peoples access to Oxygen is not a good move.
It has been interesting to see people raising the accessibility issues being told to file them as a Bug Report. They are not bugs for individual programmers to address - they are core accessibility issues which address the whole operating system and core Commercial Decisions. Such a Pity that Bugs take precedence over people!
It's even funnier ( Read Sad Beyond belief) to see a person told that they have to show a system log to illustrate the issue.
So I'm now hunting for long term rational desktops that are readily adaptable to end users needs, and not just the vanities and vagaries of developers, programmers and commercial interests. Saw that with Susa and KDE which was the primary reason from Gnome being the best desktop and Ubuntu the chosen base. Some may love the Guru Desktop Wars, but for others they just lack interest, time and even accessible systems that allow them to make comment - and until Some Linux Guru invest a logging system that deals with actual human interaction and not just system fails.... well Oxygen and Common sense will have to be found where it be!
I can only say thank heavens for the diversity of Linux.
Mate and Cinnamon look very good and I can only hope that they both go from strength to strength - LONG Term.
Alternatively, it looks like it will be LXDE and Compiz as a best option/combination.
Some will be horrified at the mere mention of Compiz - but a system start up with a nice cube with browser, email client, chat client and others on separate work spaces - and all switching with a nice quick rotate and lovely visual cue through a combination of mouse buttons 1,4 and 5 ... it does so much for so many. Compiz Cube can be the most important accessibility/productivity adaptation - and long may Compiz Live. I will not hear a bad word said against Compiz!
I see a great deal of passion for both old and new in the discussions of Gnome 3 - Unity - and the future they hold for power users - something I do support. Innovation is great and very useful, but it also needs to be tempered with some sanity and even respect. I had respect for certain people and entities - but in so many ways, that is now a thing of the past.
So - I'm looking forward to the next Mint LTS so that I, and many others, can find out what the future holds and if there is to be a wholesale migration away from the less than inclusive Unity to something more sane and adaptable - Long term.
... Oh - and I like Top Bars - but many people I deal with find them a pain - literally!
Getting a mouse pointer to the top of the screen causes actual physical pain - and having to change whole systems to allow rational access with existing knowledge and adaptation is a very big issue that some seem to like to write about - but don't put into practice.
Some think it very odd having two Bars at the bottom of the screen with everything biased to the right hand side -but if it works for you and means you can google and emyther that is more important than some chaps view of aesthetics.
Grasping and respecting how people interact with a screen is a bigger issue than some have ever considered.
It would seem that the community basis of Linux does have some drawbacks - especially if you are already excluded and have a voice that does not fit with certain mindsets and Oxygen is made a commercial commodity.