Reposted/Corrected: setup.exe - Accessibility Concerns For Users Of Assistive Tech.
Sat Apr 24 00:54:00 GMT 2004
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This is a slightly amended repost of what was inadvertently only sent to
the apps list on 22 Apr. Since I believe I'm on-topic for both lists,
have not received a response from anyone yet and I've witnessed other
comments about setup.exe improvement here, thought I'd ask for your views.
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
http://sources.redhat.com/cygwin-apps/setup.html - 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 braille 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, as do onscreen keyboards and head wands.
Demos of (arguably) the three most commonly used screenreaders are
available for free download at their respective vendors' sites:
Hal (Dolphin): http://www.dolphinuk.co.uk/
Window-Eyes (GW Micro): http://www.gwmicro.com/
JAWS For Windows (Freedom Scientific): http://www.freedomscientific.com/
Certainly, downloading one of these utilities (I'd recommend JAWS -
despite myself, mind - since it is very verbally helpful for beginners)
and replicating the problem for yourself gives you a superb appreciation
of the difficulty here. 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.
* Keyboard shortcuts - make use of them. Lots of them. Really - for
every button or menu item... We use the keyboard, not the mouse.
* 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
make it move to real controls, and keep as standard as possible in window
style, as found in typical MS- provided Windows apps and dialogs.
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 to fill in
the service gaps while not requiring complete reconfiguration of the
underlying OS and providing the advantages in the graphical Windows that
is already available.
Thought for the day:
Communist (n): one who has given up all hope
of becoming a Capitalist.
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