Accessible voting graphs

Posted on April 4, 2014
Tags: Accessibility, Debian, Election, Graphs, Gnuplot

It is that time of the year again, Debian is electing the Project Leader for 2014/15. Whenever a Debian vote is in progress, I find myself rather happy to rediscover that Debian is providing text mode voting graphs. These are quite accessible to me as a braille user. It is rather unusual for me as a blind person to be able to access any graphs on the internet at all.

All this has been made possible by gnuplots ability to generate text plots, and Manoj’s willingness to implement it during his term as project secretary. Thanks to Gnuplot and Manoj, and thanks to the current secretary for keeping this feature, it is (at least to me) a very nice to have, and actually makes Debian rather unique.

I personally don’t know of any other major projects which provide text graphs. We are indeed setting a very good example here. It would be nice if other projects would adopt this as well. This is bridging the digital divide for me.

For completeness sake I should probably mention that text graphs are not an universal solution for blind users. Those of us who do not use braille will probably have a very hard time extracting any meaningful information from this ASCII character salad. But to a braille user used to reading two dimensional information from the screen, it does actually work rather well. Some solutions from the 90s, when people didn’t have graphical terminals readily available everywhere, are still very good accessibility workarounds.