Accessibility Switches

I tried to write this on Mastodon, but 1000 characters just isn’t enough. Since I am blind, and do not have any other visible disability, I don’t know what it’s like the not have the use of my legs. Therefore, if I’ve misrepresented anything in the following section, let me know.

You’ve always hated your legs. They flop uselessly at the end of your body; there, but just to show off that you’re different. That you can’t actually use them. Like a blind person’s eyes, just rolling around in the head, without use. You particularly hate your legs today, as you sit in front of a set of stairs with a helpful “accessibility controller.” At the top of the stairs. You could pull the lever on the controller box, and a ramp is lowered to the ground. If only your legs worked.

You remember when these things were invented. It was a bill at first, made after a video of a person in a wheelchair suffered severe brain trauma after falling down stairs when attempting to get medical help. The media ran the videos nonstop until the people boiled with anger, and so the government did as little as possible, as usual. So now these things exist. After another video was made of a person falling down stairs trying to activate it, stairs leading to public buildings were altered so that, if a wheelchair is pushed up them backwards at a certain angle, then they can reach the top, and the lever. Hopefully.

So, you take a deep breath, turn the wheelchair around, and prepare to try to reach your appointment.

The moral of the story: accessibility switches are bad. The UI of software or anything really, should be accessible from the beginning, and if a user has to go in and manually put in accessibility enablement statements in .xinitrc and .profile, your crap is broken.

When I have to go into the Mate desktop’s menu, then “system”, then “Personal” then “assistive Technology” and “enable” the use of assistive technologies,” then that tells me that if I didn’t, Linux would be far, far less accessible without this. And what if a user doesn’t know about this “trick” to enable a user to use their system? Well, they’d think Linux was far less accessible than what it is, and even with full accessibility settings on, I can barely use Zoom, which is a pretty important program these days. Google Docs is another thing I struggle with in Firefox, and Chromium. And yes, Google Docs is another piece of junk that requires an accessibility switch. Even with all this in my .xinitrc and .profile:

export GTK_MODULES=gail:atk-bridge

exec mate-session

stuff still is hard to use, like Zoom, and Google Docs. And just how much of this is even still needed? Do we still need “export QTLINUXACCESSIBILITYALWAYSON=1” when we have “export QTACCESSIBILITY=1”? Am I missing yet another flag that has to be enabled?

Meanwhile, Mac and Windows are accessible by default. No need to turn on any flags or check a box that tells the system, and probably all apps, that hey, this guy is blind~ Funny how privacy goes out the window when you’re freaking disabled, huh? Funny how closed source, proprietary systems are more accessible, and privacy friendly in that regard, than a system made by the people, for the 95%. But that’s what I get for being a nerd.


You can always subscribe to my posts through Email or Mastodon. Have a great day, and thanks for reading!