Re: Missing option in survey @alain williams
AFAIK there are some blind people roaming these forums, have they got any input on this?
Yes: even the fairly rudimentary improvements to Narrator (which is still no match for the commercial screen readers on Doze) are not enough of a reason to upgrade. My privacy, as with many of you, is too important for such trifles. Moreover, the "upgrade" seriously degrades accessibility in many ways. Redmond know this; they’ve had to extend the offer precisely because their lacklustre accessibility wasn’t adequate. Example: you can’t use Edge in third-party screen readers. It’s great that they’re willing to acknowledge that much, but perhaps not so great that they’re still willing to help people get a worse experience. I guess it’s good PR, it’ll give more people the opportunity to “upgrade” (and everybody should make use of assistive tech if they need it) and people who really don’t want it can now stop being forced onto it. But as a blind person I don’t want it.
As to the alternatives, I use the Mac most of the time, and have done since 10.5 or so. The experience started out very promising, got better, really great, became the benchmark for the AT industry, and then, as many Mac users are finding about the whole OS, got gradually worse as the iOSification set in and iOS itself became the priority. Including the screen reader in the OS was a masterstroke, but it only works when you’re keeping that screen reader on par with the competition, and sadly Apple aren’t even trying to hold the ball at the moment. I’ve been thinking about going back to Windows 8.1 with Classic Shell and tweaks with a commercial reader more and more (I never really had any great love for versions of Windows past 2000 or maybe XP classic), and have decided that if Apple don’t pull their finger out very soon that’s what I’ll do. People certainly deserve better than what Apple’s sanctimonious PR bullshit conveys they should be getting from their screen reader. It will be a shame: I really prefer OS X overall, it’s a much more rational desktop experience (menus, not ribbons, no touch fetish), and it has great first-party support for apps (including the browser) and third-party support for its Cocoa toolkit. Even the installer works with sound support, so I can do independent system maintenance. But I have the hardware to last until 2023 with Windows 8.1, so that’s what I’ll do if need be. The bugs in Windows screen readers actually get fixed more than once a year, and I can use themes and tweaks to hide the ugliness and use alternative browsers, etc. Desktop Linux isn’t really feasible—the work just hasn’t been done, and while I don’t fault the volunteers, the fact is that a freshly installed system has a good chance of not working even with the necessary software installed as part of the base system. Accessibility really does require some commitment, however little. ChromeOS is still a bit rough, but it’s getting better quite rapidly; no doubt their entry into education had something to do with that. iOS is always preferable to Android, while Google continue to make only a half-hearted effort. And no, the source won’t help if you have to be using it to improve it, obviously. No platform preference can change that, alas ( not even if you downvote this post :) ); I’d use desktop Linux and hardened Android if I could. I do use textmode Linux quite a bit in a VM with braille support and use Linux on servers, of course. That’s great. But on the whole I think blind people are just choosing the least worst option, with Windows being the most mature, but yucky and exclusionary, option that can be fixed somewhat to be a pretty ruthless and efficient option, and Mac being the nicer one that gives the user more independence, a technically superior and inclusionary design and a largely pleasant experience, but fewer choices of software and no choice of screen reader, and maddening bugs to boot. There’s maybe hope for the Mac, a dead end for people who care about privacy in contemporary Windows, and degradation either of the overall experience on Windows (touch, ribbons, busy UIs) or the screen reader (long-lived Mac OS and VoiceOver bugs). Most people just go on price, and therefore Windows, but a lot of the blind people I know have the dual-boot scenario on a Mac, or a Windows VM. I’ll continue to recommend and use Macs for now, but if the next release of the system doesn’t stamp out some bugs, I’ll make the switch to the dead-end platform.