Fri, 19 Dec 2003

On the one hand, it’s great that QT supports accessibility- making Free Software available to all people is important.

On the other hand, I’m a little disappointed by the misleading KDE announcement that they have accessibility. The toolkit having accessibility is only one small step towards being accessible. Just a few off the top of my head, and I’m not even close to being an expert:

  • every app must be audited for use of keybindings, color, and sound.
  • every custom widget in the application stack must have new code to support ATK, not just the stock QT widgets.
  • custom themes for colors/font sizes/icon designs/etc. must exist.
  • every app must comply to centralized settings for things like theme, font size, etc., and it must be possible to configure those settings and other a11y tools in one place, more or less.

GNOME is far from perfect on these counts, despite Sun pouring man-years into exactly these types of issues. Novell’s internal highlights of the accessibility guidelines run to eight pages, and base toolkit is not really mentioned at all- every guideline must be enforced and checked per-application. For KDE to claim that they are accessible now (or for GNOME to rest on it’s laurels and think that it is accessible) risks us ending up with no accessible desktops at all.