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[personal profile] jewelfox

Let's talk about Linux and open-source stuff for a minute.

Free Software is NOT about Accessibility or equality. I see evidence for that claim since more then 15 years now. It is about coolness, self-staging, scratch-your-own-itchness and things like that. When Debian released Jessie [a version of the Debian OS], I was told that something like Accessibility is not important enough to delay the release. If GNOME just broke all the help system by switching to not-yet-accessible webkit, that is just bad luck, I was told. But it is outside of the abilities of package maintainers to ensure that what we ship is accessible.

I hereby officially give up. And I admit my own stupidity. Sorry for claiming Free Software would be a good thing for the world. It is definitely not for my kin. If Free Software ever takes over, the blind will be unable to use their computers.

-- Mario Lang, If your software should be cross platform and accessible, forget about Qt

This mirrors my experience with the Free Software / open-source world. If it's not something an abled cismale hacker cares about, it usually doesn't get done.

Accessibility isn't just about blind or deaf people. It also means people with learning disabilities trying to understand what's going on, mentally ill people trying to accomplish a task while stressed to the breaking point, or arthritic people trying to click a small target. It means minorities being able to participate without being subject to harassment or insulting stereotypes. It means having a culture that encourages patience and empathy, instead of attacking people who display those traits.

I participated in GNOME's outreach efforts as a paid intern, in 2012, because I thought they were a group that cared about these things too. Some of them, I think, still do, and maybe it's even improving. But mostly the experience taught me how little women, and "women's work" (anything that isn't coding), are valued in this subculture. A subculture which has disproportionate power, over the lives and livelihoods of a lot of people very different from them.

I'm sorry for evangelizing it. I honestly thought it was for the best.

PS. Dreamwidth is actually pretty great about this stuff. It's also one of the very few Free Software projects where women are a majority.

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