UEFI accessibility mandate


Ethin Probst <harlydavidsen@...>
 

Hello all,

I'm new here, and was recommended to the TianoCore project by someone over at the UEFI forum. I've run across TianoCore before, and like the project.
Before anyone gets worried by the subject line, no, this is not any kind of legal thing. Its just something I believe needs to happen. :)
Back in 2016-2017 I contacted the UEFI forum about two problems, one of which was the format of the spec, which I figured out on my own. The other problem was not so easily dealt with. Te other problem relates to accessibility of UEFI-compliant systems and platform firmware to persons with disabilities. As it currently stands, such a thing is nonexistent. To be fair, I completely understand the difficulty that such a thing would require, and I would fully agree if we still used the PC-AT BIOS systems -- yes, indeed, I would never suggest this kind of thing on such a system given that there was no actual standard of any kind for BIOSes. However, now that UEFI is here, we have such a possibility.
As it currently stands, people with low vision or blind people have access to their computers in the general sense (I am blind myself). We can do pretty much anything anyone else could do. We can code, play games, all that. There are few things that we cannot do. One of those things is managing our systems firmware in the preboot environment.
As it stands now, I can only boot other OSes or disks via memorization. While that worked on BIOS machines (I have, or had, an old Toshiba laptop that was BIOS-based), it no longer works because UEFI is mercurial. When I access the boot menu now, I play a game of chance. If the cards are in my favor, the OS I want to boot boots, and I can go on my way. But if the cards aren't in my favor, I end up making something happen that was unintended, and, worst of all, I have no idea what I did.
However, the boot menu is only one portion of a platform firmware UI. What about the setup utility or other utilities offered by computer manufacturers? What about diagnostic utilities, bootloaders, etc? What do I do with those? Well, I only have one option -- sited assistance. If I go into my computers setup utility, I cannot trust myself and say to myself, "OK, I know what I'm doing. All I need to do is change x and save and quit." No, I can't do that, because memorizing such a complex interface is extremely difficult, and its something I wouldn't expect anyone to do.
My proposal is simple, and I'm posting it here because I'd like comments and feedback before it actually gets implemented (it will take a lot of time, I'm sure): mandate, in the UEFI specification, that accessibility features for persons with disabilities must be implemented and documented, and, if such features are not implemented, then that vendor is not compliant with the specification. Place strict minimum requirements for what the accessibility features should do and how they should work.
Now, I'm sure someone out there will ask me how this can be done. Well, that's why I've joined the group -- though as I familiarize myself with EDK2 development and all that I may actually be able to participate as more than just an accessibility expert, of sorts.
As a side note, I have been blind all my life. I was born with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which resulted because I was born at 26 weeks. My retina was detached, and, though the doctors attempted to fix it, it would not remain attached, and there is no chance of it getting fixed now. I would neither want nor care for such a cure, however. I have lived my entire life blind, and while the thought of gaining site back is appealing, I am unwilling to go through the years and years of rewiring and reconditioning of my brain that would be required for me to survive with site. To me, it is simply not worth the cost.
But back to the discussion at hand: I would be happy to discuss how the accessibility features would work and what would be required. Even standardizing, through the specification, a key combination to toggle the accessibility features would be nice, as that would alleviate the major problem of a blind person buying a new computer and not knowing how to enable the accessibility features. The overarching goal would be to make the preboot environment (including applications run within it) accessible and usable by blind and visually impaired people as a boot service only. It would be superfluous to make this a runtime service, as all major OSes already have accessibility features. Plus, managing such a thing would be impossible to do.
This email has gotten quite long, so I will suspend the discussion of functionality and how I would like it to work for a future email once everyone has gotten on board.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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