[Accessibility] Accessibility Workgroup aim / Multiple toolkit strategy

Bill Haneman Bill.Haneman at Sun.COM
Wed Jul 20 11:00:47 PDT 2005

Hi Olaf

I'd be happy to work with you this week and next to craft a suitable 
joint statement from KDE and 'GAP', in the context of the FSG 
Accessibility Workgroup.  Of course we should run it past this group for 
review as well, and if anyone else wants to contribute, I think it would 
be good.

Part of reassuring people, clarifying issues, and ensuring that the 
long-term roadmap for standardization includes KDE, is making the 
timeline for this work clear; i.e. perhaps Gnome is the "current best 
choice" but it seems clear from your work and that of others in the KDE 
Accessibility grip that KDE fully intends to catch up, and 
interoperability is a key goal for all our teams.

best regards,


Olaf Schmidt wrote:

>At the last phone conference we discussed releasing a statement that the 
>approach of this working group is not to pick a single desktop or toolkit, 
>but rather to promote cooperation between the various desktops and toolkits.
>I believe this is necessary because some people are spreading the claim that 
>GNOME is about to be adopted as the standard desktop by both the FSG and the 
>OSDL. This is often coupled with the misinformation that all GTK and GNOME 
>applications are perfectly accessible and that Qt and KDE are totally 
>I have often stressed the good work of the GNOME accessibility team and the 
>good spirit of cooperation with us, and I am grateful that Peter and Bill 
>have often returned the compliments in talks or when posting to Slashdot 
>discussions. I have therefore long hesitated to bring this topic up to avoid 
>unneccessary bad feelings.
>Unfortunately some misleading sentences on the OSDL and LSB sites have led to 
>a lot of confusion during the last weeks (more on this at the end of this 
>long email). I believe a clear statement issued by us might help to get those 
>fixed. I am also sure that our decision to standardise the GNOME-authored 
>AT-SPI will be misinterpreted as adoption of GNOME by some people, unless we 
>make clear statement avoiding the wrong impression and safeguarding against 
>deliberate misinterpretations.
>Picking a single toolkit and desktop would of course run totally contrary to 
>our aim to standardise the assistive technology API that is currently shared 
>by Java, GTK, and Qt4. Moreover, it would be harmful to accessibility, 
>because the GNOME and KDE accessibility teams have a kind of unofficial 
>agreement to work on different kinds of assistive technologies to avoid 
>duplication and reach as many users as possible. Using only GTK would make 
>the Unix desktop less accessible for a number of users.
>The direction of this misinformation gives a bad name to accessibility, to 
>standardization efforts, and to free software in general because it gives the 
>wrong impression that we are unable to work together. (Just as the claim that 
>Novell would force SuSE to drop KDE after they where bought led to a lot of 
>bad feelings. And my impression is that this are the same people who are now 
>spreading other misinformation after the first attempt didn't work.)
>Some people believe that both the OSDL desktop working group and the LSB 
>desktop working group are dominated by people who have an anti-Qt-agenda, and 
>who would use any available argument to go for a GTK-only route. I don't know 
>any of the members, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. I hope that a 
>statement by our working group would convince them to revise those web pages 
>that are being misinterpreted as opposition to Qt/KDE.
>Some example for such pages:
>"Based upon these criteria, the current implementation of Gnome appears to be 
>the best fit, and will be used as the current reference desktop system for 
>the purposes of working toward the DTL working group’s strategic goal of 
>accelerating Linux on the desktop. This selection does not imply any 
>endorsement or, by implication, any rejection, of Gnome."
>Even if the page is clearly saying that they do endorse GNOME, this page is 
>used by a number of people as a proof of the claim that KDE is officially 
>disfavoured by the OSDL because of being "inaccessble". Accessibility is one 
>of the three mentioned criteria. Of course cooperation and integration 
>between the toolkits is needed for accessibility, not dropping all assistive 
>technologies that use the "wrong" toolkit.
>"Following is the list of libraries currently under investigation for their 
>inclusion in the first release of Desktop module: [...] GTK libraries"
>"Libraries not under consideration due to lack of resources: [...] libQt 
>The page does not say that GTK will indeed be standardized, because it still 
>needs to pass the "best practice" test. If however, GTK is really included in 
>the next version of the LSB, while excluding Qt, then it is likely that both 
>the FSG will quickly loose support among free software developers - at least 
>outside of the USA. I have already heard comments such as "ignore the FSG" 
>from some people. An adoption of GTK-only by the LSB would also make it 
>difficult to justify my membership in this working group.
>But I am still optimistic that we can avoid this harmful road by making the 
>purpose of this working group clear.
>Olaf Schmidt
>Accessibility mailing list
>Accessibility at mail.freestandards.org

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