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.
I am going to post another article about how I play chess
on a computer, with newsgroup-style chessboard diagrams.
Now that I think of it, these two topics are very
related. There are some rather nifty solutions
floating around from the good old text mode days which we
need to revive before they finally get forgotten on the internet.