This is an interactive session designed to explore the accessibility of Ubuntu. Developers and community members are encouraged to perform a few experiments for themselves in order to explore the level of accessibility in Ubuntu and the challenges involved.


These exercises are obviously artificial, but they are designed to give an impression of the challenges faced by disabled computer users. At first consideration some of these tasks may seem completely impossible, yet computer users with equivalent levels of disabilities do succeed in using computers on a daily basis. So obviously there are some solutions available, but often these could be made easier to use and set up. This BOF will explore what state these tools are in and how easy (or not) they are to get installed and running. We will not primarily focus on specific AT tools but rather on what the actual challenges are to using the computer. (example: the 1-finger email would be easy if you could activate the StickyKeys feature after booting, but you can't get to those settings in Gnome with just one finger)

Test procedure

The exercises themselves can be performed before UBZ, during the conference or afterwards. -- Feel free to suggest new challenges. The BOF session will be used to compare results and discuss what minor and major changes to the OS would make these tasks easier.

  • Hands-free email - Boot the computer and send an email to henrik@ubuntu.com without using your hands at all. Since you most likely don't have any special equipment available you'll probably need some help to get started... - 10 points

  • 1-finger email - Same as above, but you are allowed to use one of your fingers to press buttons (but not use the touch-pad on a laptop) - 2 points

  • Mouse-only email - Same as above, but you can only use the mouse, and only the primary button. - 3 points

  • Eye-Closed email - Boot the computer and send an email with your eyes closed. Note that simply switching off the screen is much less challenging as you can then see the keyboard. - 10 points

  • Reading this Spec this far and giving it some thought. Ask yourself: what tools are available to solve these challenges? Do they actually work? How easy are they to install and configure given that the average new user a) doesn't know Linux and b) has limited use of his/her computer until these features are set up? - 1 point

Scoring: Despite appearances, this is not a competition to see who can collect the most points, but rather a guide to help you evaluate your own effort. If you tried to install the screen reader but couldn't because of sound daemon problems, then you should consider that a valuable lesson and award yourself 3 points, or whatever.


Please post detailed reports on the /Reports Page.























Cheating is allowed! In fact cheating is in this context is simply another way of saying finding creative solutions. Asking someone else for help is allowed, and changing the programs involved to make these tasks easier is of course encouraged Smile :)

When Mark gave a talk about his space travels at LUG Radio Live he included a space suit testing story -- during his training period he was placed in a vacuum chamber wearing a space suit; it was claimed that this was to test the suit, but turned out to be more of a test of the cosmonaut. In the same way, this is not so much a BOF to explore the accessibility features in Ubuntu, but rather to help give the developer some insight into what accessible computing involves.

External resources

BoF agenda and discussion

CategoryAccessibility CategorySpec

HandsFreeEmailing (last edited 2008-08-06 16:13:52 by localhost)