[Accessibility] July 13 minutes part 1

John Goldthwaite jgoldthwaite at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 20 09:31:01 PDT 2005

Transcribing is taking a while, here is the first
section of the minutes relating to the disclaimer

July 13, 2005

Gunnar Schmidt
Olaf Schmidt
Bill Haneman
Janina Sajka
John Goldthwaite
Frank Carmickle
Larry Weiss
Pete Brunet
Catherine Laws
Randy Horwitz

Frank is transcribing last week’s minutes. 

No info about the FSG status on the JTC.  Janina
will not be able to attend the meeting in Toronto
but is trying to attend via telephone. There will
be procedings that we will want to review.  
Two issues- Janina sent out a draft of a strawman
statement on what the FSG certification means and
what it does not mean. Some material is taken
from our charter and from our discussions.  It
looks much like what you would see in a typical
licence file. I’m wondering how this strikes
people. After we have reviewed that we can
discuss it on the list.  We can also discuss the
Adoc document. Does anyone have any comments?  

Randy- Do the other groups have similar
Janina- There was a similar statement for the LSB
at one time but we have been told that they are
in the process of being re-written. So we did not
have anything to use as guidance. The thought was
to have a meeting with the director of the FSG
and FSG’s consultants but we wanted to get a
better idea about what we wanted to say in such a
statement prior to the meeting.

Olaf- I like the statement; I like the direction
of the statement.  At the beginning it sounds
like a lot of disclaimers, reminded me of all
that legal stuff but maybe it is necessary to
have it that long. The general point of it, that
you cannot call something accessible just by
meeting the standard.

Janina- Thank you.  I should give a little
context.  I think a certain amount of legaleze is
important. I was wondering if I was repeating
myself a little too much in this. I would want to
leave that kind of judgement to a wider
discussion but I decided at this point I thought
is more important to be complete rather than
terse.  I wanted to also say positive things;
much of a disclaimer is negative, about what it
does not mean. I wanted it positive so much of
the first part about what we are trying to
achieve with our standard comes from part A of
our charter document.  That is a starting point,
we can change it.  The last sentence is about not
saying you are accessible because you meet a
standard or group of standards is important. 
What we are working on is greater levels of
accessibility for more and more people. As we get
more of this working, it is implicit that you are
never fully accessible because there is always
someone that is an exception.

Bill- I think there is a certain amount of
redundancy so I’d be supportive of trying to
reduce it. But one thing that isn’t there is
which is important at this stage; it would be
good if we could enumerate the specific aspects
of accessibility which our current specifications
are addressing. By doing so we can help clarify
the areas we are not. Rather than just have the
disclaimer and saying we are not guaranteeing
that anybody’s needs are going to be meet. It is
important to say what we are trying to guaranty. 
A certain amount of platform support for
accessibility- for things like device IO and
keyboard and support for assistive technology,
binary compatible support for assistive
technology. And then we can make clear that at
this time, the FSG certification will not  make
statements about accessibility of individual
software. The platform will provide the necessary
libraries and services but we don’t guaranty that
the libraries and services will be used correctly
by application software.  We are saying that the
services for assistive technologies to do their
job are available but can’t guaranty that
applications will take advantage of them.  We say
nothing about accessibility of applications but
we are saying that assistive technologies can
operate in the environment.

Janina- I think whether the application takes
advantage of the services is important and that
needs to go in there.  I thought I had it
implicitly but that isn’t enough.

Bill- I don’t think someone who was not privy to
our discussion will understand the statement. As
Olaf says, it sounds like a big disclaimer and
people tend to ignore big disclaimers.
Olaf- Maybe it is just a matter of moving it
around the paragraph. It starts with a lot of
disclaimer language and the end says what we are
trying to do. But you have to read through a lot
of sentences saying we are not guarantying this
and that and stops with a general statement about
our aims and then it says what we are not doing
and then at the very end it says what we are
doing is this.  The positive language should be
at the top.

Bill- There is actually only one sentence that
says that, it is in the middle of the last
paragraph  Conformance with FSG accessibility
standards provides a minimal baseline of binary
compatibility to other applications and services.
It actually doesn’t say assistive technology so
it doesn’t make a distinction between
applications and assistive technologies even
where it does say we are providing services.  
Janina- is the way to do this to have two
sections?   Have something like an executive
summary and then have details broken down in
section two.  We can name some of the components
and then actually reference the standards that
are pertanent to them.  We can date and version
Bill- perhaps, but the distinction between AT and
applications should be made at the beginning. 

Randy- highlighting the positives 
Gunnar- the whole text says what we not intend to
do, that is to provide a standard makes
applications fully accessible and in smaller
parts what we plan to do, namely, provide
standards for a minimal set that is absolutely
required.  What I think is missing is some
statement that the goal of establishing a
standard that is all inclusive is not possible. 
It is not possible to create such a standard so
we do not try to do that.

Janina- yes, we are saying we will get closer and
closer.  I think we can rewrite it that way.

Bill- I’m drafting a few bullet points that I’ll
post to the list.  Maybe you can fold some of
those in to the mix.
Janina- I will try.  I’m sure we’ll be back over
this a few more times before we’re through.
Olaf- It might not be the right place to say it
but  I have been watching the discussion of the
LSB efforts that are currently a number of TTK
lists are under consideration and cut lists are
not. It is causing a lot a people to be skeptical
of some of the subcommittees of the LSB. Thinking
that there are some people that are trying to
push through their pet projects, things like
that. For example, sometime accessibility is
being misused in this debate on about which
toolkit to use, saying TTK is all accessible and
KDE is not. I am very glad that we have a totally
different approach here, that we are working on
common standards and not trying to push one
toolkit. It would be a great loss to
accessibility if we did that. I am wondering if
it would make sense for the accessibility
workgroup to position itself to that question or
if that was too particular point to add to the
general statement. It really wouldn’t fit into
the text but in the general debate, it necessary
to convince people that it is not necessary to
use accessibility to use a number of

Janina- I’m a little concerned about what you are
reporting about the discussions you’ve seen in
the LSB.  Was this recently?
Olaf- It’s a general tendency for people who are
not part of LSB themselves.  There is another
development group at the Opensource development
labs, explicitly said they want only one desktop
to standardize on and we are picking Gnome
because of accessibility.	 
Janina- is there a url for that?
Bill- Anytime someone wants to standardize on a
single desktop or single technology, it is going
to provoke such debate.  The problem is not
picking one over the other, the problem is what
is motivating them to want to standardize on a
single desktop only
Olaf- I agree
Janina- And what is being said as a rational
others may take up and take a inappropriate
conclusion from. 
Olaf- We are on a good way in the accessibility
working group because in Hawaii we had this topic
unspoken under the whole AT SPI discussion and we
found a way to do it.    we need to watch this if
we go further so that our decisions aren’t seen
as an endorsement of Gnome desktop because
currently to use AT SPI you need to use a couple
of libraries that are written by Gnome project.
Janina- that will become more self evident when
Qtlib and QT4 is out will see that there is
support for AT SPI via that mechanism.  So we get
a plug and play which ever set of libraries your
application use, your assistive technologies can
interface to that. Maybe this begins to take care
of itself as we get closer to the end of the
Olaf - I guess so, it’s probably not a problem
for this kind of statement, it is a different
Janina- what it suggests is that we should have a
sentence or two in our statement about our
approach in the standards.   Naming the
components and talking about how they are
important, applications need to use certain
libraries and in order that. And to name
assistive technologies and why the need certain
kinds of support.  We can talk about having done
this in an implementation neutral approach, its
probably a very strong thing to say.  I will try
to do that in draft 2.   Do people think that the
third paragraph should move up?  We could put the
warranty material at the end.  
Randy- if we can hit people with that first, it
is a good thing.  If people tune out on the
warranty material, then we have said what we want
to first. 

John Goldthwaite
jgoldthwaite at yahoo.com
828 885-5304

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