setup.exe - Accessibility Concerns For Users Of Assistive Tech.

Sabahattin Gucukoglu
Thu Apr 22 11:48:00 GMT 2004

Hi all,

I am a totally blind individual and use a Windows screen reader (well, a 
few of them, actually - uRLs listed below) to navigate MSWindows.  While 
trying to use Cygwin's setup.exe, I find that the chooser - in most part - 
is inaccessible.  I have tried the latest available binary snapshot from - same result.  I 
couldn't find any reference anywhere to accessibility issues in the 
installer, so here's my shot at a headsup.  First, I owe you an 

Screen reader: together with other accessibility aids termed "Access 
technology" or "Assistive technology" or "AT", and sometimes called a 
"Screen review" utility, this is software and/or hardware which makes 
viewing of the screen through speech and braille output on a synthesiser 
of one form or another and/or terminal possible, without abstracting the 
interface of the programs it is making accessible to disabled (visually 
impaired people).  Magnifiers fall inside this category, to an extent, 
too.  Demos of (arguably) the three most commonly used screenreaders are 
available for free download at their respective vendors' sites:
Hal (Dolphin):
Window-Eyes (GW Micro):
JAWS For Windows (Freedom Scientific):

Certainly, downloading one of these utilities and replicating the problem 
for yourself gives you a superb appreciation of the problem.  Not to 
worry, though - you're not the only offenders, by far. ;-)

Actually, you're doing alright, until we reach the package chooser.  Some 
good guidelines for general all-round accessibility success:
* Tab order - make the tab key focus each and every interactive control.
* Shortcuts - make use of them.  Lots of them.  Really - for every button 
or menu item...
* Standard controls - please refrain from using non-standard classes and 
controls if not necessary.  The Win32 API does make standard controls 
surprisingly flexible.  For the chooser, it sounds like a tree view is 
what you want.
* Tips - if you must use graphics in your interactive controls, then 
provide textual indication of what they mean; tip the graphics, or else 
provide a changing status field that reflects selections made.  So, when 
you alter the selection state of a package, try leaving us some status 
information in a small bar near the bottom of the window or beside the 
selected text (EG "Installed: Pine"), perhaps nicely included in the disk 
space usage field.  We're smart enough to know when a selection is made 
based on how the numbers change in such fields... though explicit mention 
would be lovely.  I like your multiselection listbox usage in the select 
mirrors screen - that involves no custom bitmaps, if you can do this for 
your chooser, that'd be neat.
* Standard dialogs - shouldn't be much need to change what you already 
have, but try to keep your tab key from moving onto group box text and 
keep as standard as possible in window style, as found in typical MS-
provided Windows apps.

As I say, the best thing you can do is, well, try it with a screen reader. 
 Since the chooser is not tab accessible and we only have at best the 
ability to simulate simple mouse clicks on text, it is very difficult to 
use the chooser to any practical purpose with any screen reader.

If anyone needs clarification, please let me know - I'm anxious that you 
get this right.  I should like to use Cygwin to help my fulltime migration 
to Linux or BSD at some stage, but there's a Windows infrastructure on my 
service machine which I think Cygwin will accommodate nicely.

Thought for the day:
    Dictatorship (n): a form of government under which everything 
    which is not prohibited is compulsory.

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Sabahattin Gucukoglu
Phone: +44 (0)20 7,502-1615
Mobile: +44 (0)7986 053399
Email/MSN: <>

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