Thursday, October 13, 2011

Montreal Summit

I spent last weekend at the Montreal Summit. I got in early Friday and spent that day drinking cafe au lait and eating poutin with a friend who lives in town. Saturday morning I took the subway to the Ecole Polytechnique.

Since this was the first GNOME event I had ever attended, I set a couple goals for the conference. The first one was to make a plan to get my Womens Outreach Internship project included in GNOME. I met with Andreas Nilsson, my mentor, and discussed wrapping up . We went through my icons and took a look at the ones which need more work, and Andreas showed me how to fix them up a bit. I'll have time to get the changes done over Christmas break.

Sunday I had a chance to talk to Cosimo Cecchi about integrating the icons so that they can be included in the 3.4 release (heads up if you work on icons is that we are going to include them in the symbolic theme) . Once that is done, I will start working on new symbolic versions of all of the High Contrast icons. I'm not sure how long this will take me, as there are a few hundred more of them. When it is done it will be easier to maintain the theme, and will (hopefully!) be better for users, so I think it is worth the time involved :)

The second goal I had was to talk to people about accessibility. Brian Cameron asked me to this, and since there were no A11y team members there, I had to go it alone. I did my best, but it was a little intimidating :)

I took my first stab at this in the GNOME Strategy session. I am always very impressed by the GNOME community's commitment to accessibility, and I wanted to discuss the importance of having better accessibility in GNOME 3. One reason to do this is, of course, because it is a value that we support. However, accessibility required by law. Section 508 in American law (which is what I am most familiar with) requires that all businesses contracting the the US government, and the government itself, to be accessible. The ADA goes farther than the Rehabilitation Act, requiring that all employers provide reasonable accommodations unless they will cause undue hardship to the employer. Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools to provide accessible options for students (note, for example, the recent class action suit involving Google Docs ). It is important that we support accessibility because we believe in it, but it is also important to keep in mind that, in many contexts, GNOME OS will only be a viable option for users when it is accessible. Compliance with the law is defined by the accessibility of GNOME in comparison to other available technology, so we have to support features comparable to those that are available in other operating systems.

I was able to talk to Jean-Fran├žois Fortin Tam a little bit about the accessibility of PiTivi (he showed me how to apply a high contrast filter to the image, and noted that the timeline toolbar is not accessible unless contrast is set using the menu bar). I also had a short discussion with Guillaume Desmottes about developing an IM client for persons with language and communication disorders.

It was very pleasant to meet every one, and I was very happy to be able to attend :)

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