Today I had a great call Penelope Stowe who has been leading some excellent efforts with the Ubuntu Accessibility Team in conjunction with the (quite literally) always rocking Luke ‘The Muso’ Yelavich.

The reason for the call was simple: I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge or visibility of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team and accessibility in general, and when Ubuntu was started, the project made a firm commitment to the core aspects of freedom such as freedom of access to the technology, the freedom to have Ubuntu in your language, and the freedom to experience Ubuntu in an accessible way. Penelope, Luke and others are passionate about bringing the focus back to accessibility more, and I wanted to echo this important ambition here.

Penelope, with some input from Alan Bell, articulated the goals of the project perfectly:

At the heart of Ubuntu’s philosophy is the belief that computing is for everyone, whatever your circumstances. Ubuntu was certainly hailed as one of the most accessible operating systems when it was launched however different approaches to accessibility APIs in the upstream projects have lead to some areas needing renewed attention to maintain a high standard of accessibility. The Ubuntu Accessibility team has existed from the start, providing support to those requiring assistive technology to operate the Ubuntu desktop. This year an effort started to bring the team together to take up a more active role than providing support. This led to a more defined leadership being selected at UDS-M. Penelope Stowe now heads the documentation and community engagement activities of the team and Luke Yelavich leads the development activities.

Penelope goes on to share what kind of work the team is focusing on:

Alongside the regular support activities we are working on updating documentation including the team wiki pages and information on how to use Ubuntu with assistive technology and we are running a project to create design personas that can be given to developers and user interface designers to bring to life the accessibility requirements of our users. This project is starting with a survey of a wide range of people who use assistive technology with computers (not just Ubuntu users) and we will use the results of the survey to create realistic but fictional characters who need Ubuntu to be better so they can use it.

the Ubuntu Accessibility Team are doing valuable and important work and I know they (a) want better awareness of the team (hence this blog entry as one such effort), and (b) they are keen to get more volunteers involved. Here is where you can find them:

Keep up the awesome work Penelope, Luke, and co, and folks, if this interests you, do get involved!

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