Hi Damien,
Ok, I think before you can really understand my opinion, where I am
coming from, I think you and the others need to know something about
me personally. My life experiences, what I do for a living, etc all
have help shaped my opinion on this issue and may seam rather drastic
or extreme compared to your own opinions as a result. Never-the-less
who I am and what I believe is none-the-less the sum total of my life
experiences with working on computers over many years both as a
sighted user and as a blind user.
For starters back in the mid 1990's I began using Windows 3.1 and
later Windows 95 when I still had some useful vision remaining.
Eventually around 95 my vision got too bad to be able to read the text
clearly so I got Jaws to read the text on the screen but I could still
see a dialog box, buttons, check boxes, etc even if I couldn't
actually read the text on the screen. As a result I got enough
experience with Windows to use it as a sighted user uses it for a
little while and completely understand where they are coming from on
this issue from a visual point of view.
However, for the past 12 years or so I have been totally blind and
totally dependant on Jaws or Window-Eyes to use my computer. As a
result I also know full well what it is like to use a computer from a
blind man's point of view. It is a totally different experience when
things that are visually friendly are not exactly blind friendly,
because how we operate computers are inharently different a lot of the
For example, when Jaws or Window-Eyes reads a web page the screen
reader often reformats it so that it is contextually more
understandable than the way it is visually being shown on screen. This
is certainly not bad in most cases, but it also makes a big difference
between the way we understand the layout of a web page  and the way it
actually is. So if someone tries to describe where something is on
screen or we try and tell them there is a lot of room for confusion
because the way a blind person and a sighted person view that web
page, dialog box, whatever  is completely different because how it is
shown and described to us via our screen reader.
I think because I started using computers as a sighted user, not a
blind user, I'd prefer to be able to operate my system in amanner a
sighted person does rather than have special accessibility modes, be
able to use classic mode, whatever as that is contrary to what the
sighted user does. I think to truly be equal with our sighted peers we
need to be able to interact with our computers just like they do, and
make the default way of doing things as accessible as possible. For
that reason I force myself to learn how they operate the computer, use
the more visually friendly start menu, etc so I can be equal with them
as much as possible.
Since the new Windows 7 start menu is fully accessible anyway I don't
see going back to a classic start menu as a big deal. What you are
calling your rights I see nothing more as a want. It is a want because
it is what you are use to for the past 15 years, what you like, etc
and has absolutely nothing to do with accessibility what so ever in
this case.
 The other important reason I feel this way has to do with my job.
While most people on list know I am a programmer most of the time I
make money by doing general tech support work locally. Since all of my
customers are sighted, not blind, i have to be able to relate to them
as a sighted user and not as a blind user.
For that reason if I am doing a tech support call I might tell the
client to double left click on this, right click that, or select this
or that from the control panel etc. It would make no sense for me to
give them directions using hundreds of hot keys they don't know, or
give them directions based on classic view settings as most sighted
computers aren't setup that way to begin with.  I quite litterally
have to know and understand how the clients operate their computers,
from a purely sighted point of view,  to help them.
For example, Windows Vista has a web view and a classic view for the
Windows control panel. While I personally like the classic control
panel myself that's not going to do me any good if I am talking to a
client on the phone that has Windows Vista configured using the
default web view.  I still need to be able to tell them where to go
and what link to click on to bring this or that setting up etc.
Therefore as a blind tech support specialist I have to work in a
sighted man's world everyday and can't afford to let my own personal
likes/dislikes get in the way of how my clients' computer is setup and
operated. So I generally configure my computer the same way they do so
I am familiar with what they need help with, and I am also in my own
way equal with them too. I am interacting with my computer as a
sighted user does, as much as possible, and that makes me feel good.
Finally, there is a time when configuring or formatting something for
accessibility and not doing so is a good thing and a bad thing. Let's
go back to the web page example for a moment as this is a good one to
talk about.
When it comes to tables Jaws by default reformats the table and puts
it into a list instead of displaying the table as it appears on screen
with columns and rows. Often times this becomes problematic as you
lose any context of the data being shown.  This is a primary case of
where reformating the web page to make it "more accessible" is a
problem instead of a big help.
On Linux using the Orca screen reader with Firefox no reformating of
web pages is ever performed. A lot of users coming from Windows who
used Jaws all of their life typically have a problem with this because
they were never taught how web pages are actually laid out for sighted
users, and all they know is how Jaws presents web pages to them and
assume that is how the web pages are visually setup. I call that a
serious problem in my book as they are being taught to use this or
that website in a way contrary to how it actually is laid out in
At any rate with Orca though I can look at a complex table and use the
left and right arrow keys to move from column to column or row by row
to see things more or less in their contectual context. The way it is
displayed to a sighted user and not have the screen reader scramble
everything and spit it back out at me in some format it thinks would
be more accessible for me. Reformating the table in some cases makes
matters worse rather than better for the VI computer user. Again this
doesn't make Firefox for Linux inaccessible, but the way stuff is
presented is quite a bit different than you normally get on Windows.
Basicly, all I am saying is I have seen it both ways here. Yeah, I
agree that it would be nice if Microsoft would keep classic mode
around etc for those users who prefer it and so on, but I also believe
if we are going to keep up with our sighted peers we need to be able
to use our computers the same way the do with equal access to the same
user interface they have. I don't believe we should use one user
interface because we are blind and everyone use another. That's not
necessary, and I believe further alienates  us from the rest of the
mainstream population.  I believe in better integration between blind
and sighted user interfaces not separation. When changes come the best
thing to do is not fight it, but learn to adapt and use what we have
been given.
When I hear you say that we should stand up for our rights to have
classic mode to me? it basicly reminds me of a blind man jumping up
and down screaming, "I'm blind so everyone treat me different! Do what
I say because I want a special computer mode or I'll sue you!"
So instead of accepting these changes, "rolling with the change, " as
my mother-in-law always says, you want to go to war over a new
interface you haven't used, haven't even tried yet, and isn't even an
accessibility problem. The one and only reason I believe you are doing
so much complaining is it is different from classic mode and you
personally don't want to change. You want to upgrade, but you don't
want things to change. Unfortunately, in a case like this you have to
decide one way or the other and it doesn't cut both ways here. You
can't have your cake and eat it too.


On 7/9/10, Damien Pendleton <dam...@x-sight-interactive.net> wrote:
> Hi Thomas,
> The problem here is, even some sighted people don't know how to use it.
> Heck, I have trouble getting somebody sighted to help me do a reinstall of
> XP simply because they don't know how radio buttons work, etc, etc.
> What I'm trying to say is, while there are maybe a load of people who will
> benefit from the upgrade, newbies and VI users do not, and it's time more
> people started fighting for their rights.
> Like I said before, if blind people just go with the flow then how on earth
> are other people in this world going to be able to cater for us?
> Regards,
> Damien.

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