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a few thoughts come to mind following mr. bill gates recent "prodigal son coming home to the disability community" speech at the accessibility summit. his speech can be found on the appease, oops a freudian finger slip, i mean access pages on the microsoft web.
first, i have a proposition for mr. gates and the head folk at
microsoft. all monitors would be removed. in their place, get the
access software and hardware of their choice. use it for 6 months,
we will give them a longer then ordinary period because they are not
accustomed to the same steep learning curves crippled people are when
learning to use the computer. at the end of that time give them a
choice, get back their monitors and fix windows or continue to use
what they have. who can we get to hold the wager money on this
question? as others have said, when screen reading devices are
treated just like monitors, they are functionally equivalent,
microsoft will fix windows.
secondly, reading between the screen reader output lines again, i
think i now clearly see how bill interprets software access and the be
patient step by step approach he proposes. remember, mr. gates is not
going to fix windows, he is going to gradual add access to programs.
he sees making access a reality as the same thing as adding additional
user convenience features to his programs. instead of fixing
windows, he will add, pop up box by pop up box etc. a few more
convenience access features with each new version of his programs. he
has been doing this evolutionary approach in other areas already. in
the office group of programs, tighter integration of the program
interaction and sharing of common features is being gradually added.
in the same group, using visual basic as the macro language is slowing
being added. that is all to the good. do you see the pattern? to
him access is functionally the same as responding to customer requests
for convenience features. he needs to fix windows. if windows is
accessible, any program will be usable. we don't need retrofit band
aid and other slap dash software froth, we need an accessible windows
operating system. instead of multiplying by 3 a gesture to make it a
larger gesture, let him make a commitment on the order of the do or
die program to create a competitive web browser in a year's time. when
he puts comparable staff and hundreds of millions of dollars where his
not to be "shamed" mentality lies, we can believe it is not all
patronizing gesture. if government follows it's own rules and buys
only fully accessible software and operating systems, mr gates would
face a business reality akin to that he felt when wanting to smash
netscape in order to dominate the future of the internet and needed a
browser he could control.
thirdly, mr. gates follows yet another pattern in his please be
patient and let me do it on my own time demand. in many ways too
numerous to go over here, microsoft has a history of artificially
creating dependence on them as the solution to problems they create.
when they blackmailed dealers to put only windows on machines so new
users would only know it and not other quality operating systems, they
were creating a dependency that meant that users do things microsofts
way on it's schedule only. what seems a magnanimous special effort to
"help the poor crippled people", to here microsoft and the access
group talk, is in reality a repeat of the problem. we will force
users, competitive software companies, and adaptive software suppliers to
do access our way and dance
to our access tune and time schedule. we need not cooperate, except in public pronouncements, we need only monopolize, obfuscate, and dominate. when we gradually add an access feature here and there, it is your problem to follow us, we don't want your interference. fix windows and adaptive software folk can provide superior product based on a common and cooperatively used system just as it was in dos and could have been in os2. by adding access to programs and not to windows, he achieves similar goals with regard to his competition. every one who does a word processor, spreadsheet, etc will have to add access to their programs using microsoft's controlled patches. others will always be behind microsoft because they control how and when access features are added to the bandaid. fix windows and other companies will not have to sing microsoft's tune and spend their resources to fix microsofts problem.