Fedora 2025 strategy: accessiblity improvements in support of our vision?

Continuing the discussion from Fedora 2025 strategy: Improving Fedora mindshare in the Linux ecosystem:

Our vision statement is:

The Fedora Project envisions a world where everyone benefits from free and open source software built by inclusive, welcoming, and open-minded communities.

… and I think it’s important that our new strategy include concrete things that move us towards that goal. The official recognition of Fedora Linux as a “digital public good” is one such thing. We could pursue similar programs for accessibility — Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for our project tooling, and something for our OS offerings.

I’m not an expert on such programs — I hope we have people in Fedora who are, and who have helpful advice. I can see that this could be helpful in two ways:

  • An expert benchmark we can target. We can see where we don’t meet the standard, and find ways to improve
  • A way to advertise to people looking for operating systems that meet their needs.

What do you all think of this idea? Should we make this part of our plan? Are there specific programs we should look at? Or, are there other approaches that might be better?

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I am also not an expert, but I think improving our accessibility is important both morally and practically in support of our goal of doubling the active contributor count. If we can find certifications that address this, that would be great. Certifications aren’t perfect, but they give us 1. a framework to measure ourselves against and 2. a third-party validation for users who are looking for this. Absent reasonable certifications, self-certifying against established guidelines (e.g. the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) would be a big help.

I saw a talk on Fegora at DevConf.CZ and I’d love to have projects like that working within the Fedora community instead of being downstream. I don’t think we’re there yet, but getting to the point where we can make accessibility features part of our release criteria would be a big success indicator.

If we have or can recruit people with some expertise on this, I think accessibility would make a great objective (or perhaps series of objectives: tooling, OS, perhaps a third thing).

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When researching for a blog a few years ago most of the screen readers for Linux were no longer supported. This is an important area if there are people willing to take on this effort.

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This post made me think of an article I read recently by Chelsea Troy, “The Oxymoron of “Data-Driven Innovation”” [1]. I felt that the article spoke directly to the nature of open source software and community: one person making useful things for themselves benefits many people in surprising ways. For example, they point out that things that we love about our smartphones started as accessibility features created for niche cases.

I appreciate their take on how to approach innovation: “Visionary ideas derive directly from centering people at the margins.” They prescribe two ways to help make this happen:

  1. In the long term, get marginalized people into seats of power to make product decisions.
  2. In the short term, start your product discussion with “Who are we building this for?”

We don’t really refer to Fedora Linux as a product often, but I think these ideas can translate to what we do in Fedora. I believe that doubling the number of contributors can help with item 1, but I wonder how we are doing currently with diversity in our leadership. Another way to address item 2 (directly quoted) is “Who is left out of current solutions and why?” I think this naturally leads into a conversation about how decision making is done in Fedora, as well.

I think it would be helpful for us to dig into these questions along the two paths @mattdm mentioned: our OS and our contributor community.

Another thought I’d to add: I spend some time browsing tech twitter and from that discourse my sense is that neurodiverse and people with disabilities simply want things to be created with their needs in mind. I think listening to marginalized peoples and making practical, concrete improvements to our OS & community organization based on that feedback is going to make the most impact.


  1. The Oxymoron of “Data-Driven Innovation” – Chelsea Troy ↩︎

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Hello @spotz ,
To add to what you stated here about screen readers… I have a visually disabled friend who sublets half of the house I lease. We have been friends for many years and I have had to relearn some aspects of what it means “being human” to me, in light of his personal struggles through day to day existence. Simple things like a working screen reader available in Gnome as it used to be (ie working) made some of the extra effort required of him to use his computer as a tool, easier. When it became less reliable, he was forced to read things, which for the visually impaired becomes arduous at least and impossible in some cases, and at very least error prone. I don’t truthfully know the current state of our accessibility components that we package with the distribution, though I know the magnifier works as Ray is using it regularly.
Another area of access that sometimes seems to have issues is the login (GDM) screen, the pointer Ray uses for example needs Gnome to enlarge it so on the login the pointer is default size (not enlarged) and he has a hard time finding it. I have had a discussion with another visually impaired user on the discussion forum here around a support issue they were experiencing difficulty logging in due to not being able to get the entry field active, they couldn’t see the cursor and didn’t know how to highlight the login entry field.

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I recently just finished a research paper for my college course around web accessibility for web developers. I agree that an emphatic approach is best. Learning how people with diverse abilities use the product can help us understand their needs better. Web accessibility can help to reduce the digital divide, improve efficiency, improve response time, reduce development costs, and demonstrate social responsibility.

Of course the topic is ever evolving and improving so it can be hard to keep up with. I agree with Marie that the two questions she proposed are a good approach. There are several disabilities that can affect how someone uses a software / operating system. Another method could be simplifying them down into different categories that can then be expanded on such as:

  • Visual
  • Cognitive
  • Auditory
  • Physical
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One of the CfP notification services I subscribe to let me know about the #a11yTO conference. It’s a hybrid conference focused on accessibility to be held in late October. Thought it might be interesting to the participants of this thread.

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This topic sounds incredibly interesting and important to me!

After talking to a bunch of folks, it’s clear that there is a lot of passion and interest in the community around this – Accessibility for both the Linux users and for our contributors (in our platform/tooling)!
Having a special interest group for this, working towards pushing accessibility as a priority in our workflow would be a great. I am working towards a proposal to start a SIG under the DEI team.
Please checkout the draft proposal as I work on the logic model.
Would love more feedback/suggestion on it

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I happened across a Medium article that calls us (and the rest of the FOSS ecyosystem) to task on our lack of accessibility. It’s a frank assessment, but it provides some concrete areas where we’re currently failing our blind users. Some of it needs to be addressed upstream, but some of it (e.g. Assistive Technologies support being off by default) are things we can address.

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A couple of weeks ago I came across this forum post by a Linux user with visual impairment who also expressed some of his frustrations with using Linux. It focused more on Gnome Magnifier and limitations of Orca, but the sentiment was similar to the article you posted.

Not to excuse the lack of focus that Linux is apparently guilty of in the past, but with mainstreams desktops being as polished as they are now, I think that increased accessibility is a great target for a long-term plan. The community would be tackling an under-served and concrete need.

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Thank you for sharing this article @bcotton, it’s for sure a critique, but we need it, and it shows some exact places we can improve. I’d like to see the Accessibility SIG drive these types of changes long term but it might be some time before that is up and running. I am curious what it will take to make Assistive Technologies on by default- and if that’s something we can do for F37?

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Thanks for sharing @joseph this is another great post. It’s cool that Fedora’s 5 year strategy gets mentioned later in the thread too!

I wonder if there is any overlap between Fedora contributors and the development of Gnome Magnifier or Orca- just asking them won’t make it a priority- but if we have folks contributing there already, we might be able to affect some change

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Good question. From what I can tell, it’s on by default already. I’m not sure if that’s a recent change in Firefox or what.

The idea I liked the most from the linked article @bcotton was the concept of an assisted installation method. I think that would give the project it’s most bang for the buck in effort/return.

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It would also be cool to have that as a conversation starter for accessibility in the broader Linux community. I can imagine that becoming one of the talking points that gets repeated in all the Fedora reviews.

Hi, I am emphatically in support of this conversation and agree with the conclusions about the benefits to Fedora shared earlier in the thread.

From my perspective, I see a two-part process that could help launch this work and build some momentum around it. It is just a rehashed version of what others have already said here!

This is a people question. Convening people together who are interested in the topic builds mindshare and more feedback loops into the project, which is better than what we have now (little to no regular feedback on accessibility in Fedora).

I see an Accessibility S.I.G. or Working Group as a useful step to achieve the long-term goal mentioned by @riecatnor. If we can include those voices in the project, it will also make it easier to find out how to elevate these voices into leadership roles in the community.

I suggest to all interested to review @siddharthvipul1’s Google Doc draft and share feedback:

I propose a survey led by the new Accessibility team as a good first step to organize and understand this work.

As many already stated in the thread, many of us here are not experts in accessibility. This is a blind spot, and we need to make a stronger effort to reach out to people who are directly impacted by this work. For example, how would we include the feedback of someone like @jakfrost’s friend? They likely wouldn’t participate in this Fedora Discussion thread.

I think a survey with an explicit focus on reaching out to people outside of our “usual” channels is a needed first step. For example, D.E.I. team members (or anyone else in the community) could share this in our own networks for more reach and visibility in communities with disabled Linux users. The results of this survey would be informative to help us narrow down where this Accessibility team would start. The survey results could also help give this team some motivational purpose and intention.

I think GNOME does a good job with this. GNOME’s Human Interface Guidelines have been lauded for a long time. Perhaps this is a conversation we could have in tandem with GNOME’s GUADEC conference, since we are looking to sponsor their conference anyways.

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