We would like to have one or more boot options on the Live CD boot loader to start the CD with certain accessibility features enabled by default. This will make these features available from within Gnome, which would otherwise require you to log out and back in.
Ideally, we would have the Gnome On-screen Keyboard and/or the Gnopernicus screen reader/magnifier installed during the Live session (if that option is selected at boot). When installed, these programs usually start with X.
The Live CD boot process (gfxboot)
The initial boot screen has let's you press F3 to set further boot options. Some options can be activated with function keys, while others are typed in at the boot prompt. Isolinux labels are selected from the gfxboot menu system.
To support different accessibility features for different groups we should allow for different boot option (isolinux labels actually) and preferably use the same categories that we use in the testing scheme. In brief, these are:
v1 - Lesser Visual Impairment
m1 - Minor Motor Difficulties
v2 - Moderate Visual Impairment
m2 - Severe Motor Difficulties -- pointing devices
v3 - Blindness
m3 - Severe Motor Difficulties -- switch devices
That way we can coordinate the testing for user groups with the LiveCD options. To test how well the latest build of Ubuntu works for a given group, boot the live CD with that boot option and try some desktop tasks.
After selecting a boot option the boot process continues as normal in gfxboot. The user will be asked about language and keyboard layout and then the system will start X and Gnome. Adding this boot option for accessibility support takes us well on our way to making the whole install process via Ubuntu Express accessible.
Visually impaired users
Low vision: The font and colours in gfxboot can be changed for this user case to yield large text in high contrast.
Blind: Work is being done on incorporating the speakup kernel patch in the main Ubuntu kernel but this is not loaded at the time when the user selects a language and keyboard layout. An alternative might be to a) use a recorded sound file with instructions ('type your two letter language code and press enter') or b) sound a beep and have the significance of this explained in the documentation. The same for the keyboard code.
Mobility impaired users
The gfxboot stage should not pose any problems for those able to use the keyboard with single keys as no multiple key combinations will be required. Support could also be provided for those unable to use a keyboard, but able to use a mouse (like a headpointer) if gfxboot is run with a mouse driver.
Using Ubuntu Express
v1 starts Gnome with a high visibility theme, v2 starts Gnopernicus in magnifier mode while v3 starts the screen reader. The minor motor difficulties (m1) category covers a range of keyboard and mouse adjustments that can be performed from the Preferences > Keyboard > Accessibility window, which should be launched on first boot: turning on Sticky Keys, Bounce Keys, and Mouse Keys should be reasonable. m2 and m3 should start the Gnome On-screen Keyboard (GOK) in pointing and scanning mode respectively. In all cases, the AT-SPI framework should be enabled. The user can now explore the Live CD session freely and may finally decide to run Ubuntu Express ...
Ubuntu Express Gnome interface
If the above configuration can be performed in the boot loader, and the On-screen keyboard or screen reader/magnifier are loaded as appropriate, then there should be little need to make any changes to the actual Ubuntu Express interface.
We still need to check that the entire interface can be navigated with the keyboard only and that Ubuntu Express plays nicely with AT-SPI. The Accessibility Team should perform this testing.
The AT features selected during the boot process should also be installed by default on the users system.
Future work: A separate screen should be added to the Ubuntu Express interface that would show any other AT features that might be available, some of which might require a download. This window appears only if you have either selected one of the AT boot options, or have enables any of the AT features during the Live session (some of there are already installed in standard Gnome systems by default like Sticky and Mouse Keys and others like High Contrast Themes and large cursors should be). This extra window