My thoughts on offensive company names and so on.

John Isige

Well for me, I don't care about the offensiveness so much. What I care about is stuff like:

Last night I was using elocrash with Skum from Microslop and I tried with the shark and Microslop Notreader and NVDA and nothing was working"! I'm sorry, l33t (look it up if you don't know/remember) wasn't cool back in the 80s when it got started, and this stuff that's essentially an equivalent of it isn't cool either. I know, just like the l33t k1dz whu t0t3z roxxorz! you think you're terribly terribly clever, but just as they weren't, really, you're not.

That's my problem, having to parse whatever dumb gibberish people think is clever this week because all they can do is puns, the lowest form of humor, on company names that really don't work anyway, instead of coming up with something that's actually witty and meaningful. You see what I did there? I actually wrote real words that everybody can understand and stuff instead of going "shut up, John Isicky"! It also seems really odd to insult a company you just got done saying did something right, but maybe that's just that irony all you young people are supposed to be into nowadays, and I'm just too old to get it. Besides, you will never beat the pun on HP-UX, which is both obvious and funny, so really, there's no point to it all anyway. I'll leave the working out of that pun as an exercise for the reader.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with the offensive part too. While I realize companies, e.g. Microsoft, have a history to live down, a lot of that was quite a while ago. Plus, how are they ever going to live it down or get better if we're not giving them a chance, semi-praising them on the one hand and insulting them on the other? You think that will make them want to keep putting in the work for accessibility? Also, what in the world is up with this "they're playing catch-up" stuff? Ooooo, Apple did accessibility right, they showed everybody how it's done! OK, and then you're upset that somebody's copying that? I mean, if Apple's so super special awesome and all, shouldn't we want everybody and their fifth cousin to copy them, such that we have proper accessibility on every conceivable platform? Why are you complaining that other companies are doing something like that? That should be, as I believe I've said when it was mentioned that keyboard commands were being changed to be more like other screen readers, exactly what we want. For example, my wife bought a used mac for us. I read this article:

Looking at the web section, I see we've got commands to jump by headings and all, and it seems pretty similar to other screen readers. Great! That's less time wasted in trying to figure out how to do simple things, and more time using the mac. Obviously I want to get more familiar with the mac way of doing things and not just do what I'm doing on Windows, because maybe mac does something better. But that will happen over time. If I want to sit down and start checking something out to see what it's like, the more barriers in my way like "learn an entirely different set of commands and things just to navigate a web page", the less likely I am to want to use that thing.

I'm not suggesting that every screen reader should work exactly like every other screen reader. I'm saying that there should be a base set of things that are pretty similar, e.g. I can do a lot of the same basic stuff to get around in Android that I can do to get around in iOS. Sure, if I really want to use either one, I'm going to have to learn their specifics, but in general, I can pick up either kind of device with a screen reader active and start using it to do stuff, no problem. You can see this with NVDA too. What's the thing most people get hung up on?

That's right, object navigation. I use it a lot more now, particularly if something isn't reading what I think it should, but it was confusing for a bit until I got Joseph's tutorial. But you know what? Part of that was because it was different from other screen readers I'd used, but part of it was that I didn't have to worry about using it for a long time, because NVDA does what I'm talking about. If you've used NVDA and JFW, as I assume most people here have, you know there's a lot of stuff that's similar between them in how you access Windows, e.g. using the arrow keys and such.

But maybe you actually find object navigation better than the jaws cursor. I'll give you an example, on the mac if you're reading a table, you interact with it. Then you read it like you read any other thing. So there's only, potentially, one extra command to remember, you have to interact first. I don't have to try and learn a whole new set of table navigation keystrokes. I used that example because it's fresh in my mind and I honestly don't remember enough about how JFW did things to say what's better or worse between it and NVDA.

Anyway the point to this rambling is that we shouldn't be implying that other companies are substandard or whatever, because they've got feature Y that looks a lot like feature X from Company Z's screen reader Lava Talk, the screen reader that spits fire! We should be going "awesome, they realized what works already, that's gonna save me a lot of time if I ever have to learn or use that screen reader, especially if it's on short notice". We shouldn't be complaining that they're "catching up". I say, are they doing the work? Great, that means more stuff I can use in more situations. Any "catching up" being done is nothing but a benefit to us, pure and simple. Here's one last example. Microsoft now has it so you can use Narrator in safe mode. How awesome would it be if they had a key you could hold down while Windows is booting, like the recovery keys on a mac, that boots you into safe mode automatically? Right now I'm pretty sure you still have to hit a key and pick from a menu, which means sighted assistance, if you want to be sure you've got it right. How cool would it be to hold down, I don't know, Windows-n on boot and get safe mode with networking, and just waiting a bit and then launching Narrator and geting speech? I don't know about anybody else, but it sounds really nice to me, if I ever encounter a problem.

There, I think I'm done. Except to say, again, that we should be praising companies who are trying to do right, even if we think it took them long enough, instead of slamming them for that and inventing dumb insulting names for them. If they're doing right, or trying to do right, then that's what they're doing, and we should only encourage it. Sure, if they mess up, tell them so, hopefully constructively. I'm not saying we should only be nice and say only good things about the stuff companies make. But by all the gods, have some perspective. Your names are neither cute nor clever, and we're not twelve any more. I'm pretty sure I'm like, 14 or something.

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