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Re: [magnifiers] THIN CLIENTS RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS?

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  • nick danger
    Hi peter, Interesting stuff here. Keep us up to date on this. Tony God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 21, 2003
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      Hi peter,

      Interesting stuff here. Keep us up to date on this.

      Tony

      "God grant me the serenity to accept the
      things I cannot change,
      the courage to change the things I can,
      and the weaponry to make a difference."

      coda from Immortals Anonymous
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Tony Heath" <tony@...>
      To: <magnifiers@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 9:46 AM
      Subject: RE: [magnifiers] THIN CLIENTS RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS?


      > good article
      >
      > > -----Original Message-----
      > > From: Peter Verhoeven [SMTP:pav@...]
      > > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 6:11 AM
      > > To: magnifiers@yahoogroups.com
      > > Subject: [magnifiers] THIN CLIENTS RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS?
      > >
      > > Hi all,
      > >
      > > Thin clients like Citrix ICA, are realy a danger for employment of
      > > visually impaired people.
      > >
      > > Below is a good article explaining the problems for visually impaired,
      > > published by e-access bulletin.
      > >
      > > Regards Peter Verhoeven
      > >
      > >
      > > THIN CLIENTS RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS?
      > > by Dan Jellinek dan@... .
      > >
      > > "In terms of computer accessibility it's like going back ten to 15
      > > years.
      > > Be afraid." Such was the stark message delivered by Andy White,
      > > RNIB technology officer, to delegates at the institute's recent
      > > 'Techshare' conference (http://www.rnib.org.uk/techshare).
      > >
      > > The reason for White's gloom is the rise of 'thin client' computing, the
      > > system whereby large organisations with computer networks hold
      > > almost all information and software applications on a central server or
      > > servers. The 'thin client' machines on users' desktops are little more
      > > than keyboards and screens, with almost no locally held data, software
      > > or processing power. It represents a move away from the high-
      > > specification desktop computer and back to the 'dumb terminal' days
      > > of mainframe computing. Even office software applications such as
      > > word processors are run on the server, with the output being sent to the
      > > terminal. The result looks the same to the user, but all the actual
      > > computing is taking place on the remote server.
      > >
      > > There are many advantages of this kind of computing: it is easier to
      > > update software since you only need to do so once at the centre;
      > > security against hackers and viruses is far tighter; general maintenance
      > > is easier; and above all, it is cheaper.
      > >
      > > Those that have already adopted the technology in the UK include the
      > > national health service hotline NHS Direct; Barclays Bank; and the
      > > Admiral Insurance Group. Indeed its appeal is so strong that even the
      > > RNIB has said it would implement thin client technology if it were not
      > > for accessibility problems.
      > >
      > > These problems are not trivial. The great majority of access technology
      > > software relies on a fully functioning PC with its own hard drive,
      > > central processing unit, application software and operating system and
      > > so will simply not function on a 'thin client' terminal.
      > >
      > > "Screen magnifiers have some functionality on thin clients. They can
      > > grab enough information from what is coming from the server for
      > > simple magnification," says White. "However, the more advanced
      > > manipulation features of magnifiers will not function, and as for screen
      > > readers, which convert data output from programmes rather than the
      > > purely graphical information sent to thin clients, it is a no-go area."
      > >
      > > In moving to implement thin client technology, therefore, organisations
      > > have completely overlooked the needs of their visually impaired
      > > employees, White says. In the short term, there is only one solution: a
      > > visually impaired employee needs to keep his or her PC working
      > > alongside but outside the terminal system. "Typically organisations do
      > > have two regimes running, and data can still be got at from outside the
      > > thin client system.
      > >
      > > "It can be politically hard to insist on this, and employers may not
      > > even
      > > realise it is possible. But people encountering problems when asking
      > > for a proper PC should ask if an organisation's technical people are
      > > also using dumb terminals? Are they hell - they're going to be sitting
      > > there with their fully functioning PCs."
      > >
      > > On the other hand, running two systems is not ideal, he says. "It is a
      > > work-around, and work-arounds will only work around for so long,"
      > > says White. "It is not good for visually impaired people to be working
      > > under a separate regime. Eventually their PCs will become outdated,
      > > for example."
      > >
      > > In the longer term, therefore, there is a need to build accessibility in
      > > to
      > > thin client systems, and to this end talks are underway between makers
      > > of access technology and those of terminal technology.
      > >
      > > Thin client systems generally use Microsoft Terminal Server software
      > > (http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/technologies/terminal/defaul
      > > t.asp) at their core, often enhanced with software such as MetaFrame
      > > from Citrix (http://www.citrix.com) which adds features such as
      > > improved load-balancing across a network.
      > >
      > > Access technology specialists Dolphin Computer Access has been
      > > involved in discussions with both Microsoft and Citrix to see if they
      > > can work together to allow screenreaders to work. However as well as
      > > the technical problems, there are legal ones of copyright and
      > > commercial secrecy to overcome."
      > >
      > > "You can run into a legal brick wall," says Mike Hill, software director
      > > at Dolphin. "We're waiting on Microsoft. The ball is in their court but
      > > they do seem keen to start testing solutions." Hill says Microsoft hopes
      > > to be able to announce further developments in time for this March's
      > > major international access technology conference in the US, 'CSUN'
      > > (http://www.csun.edu/cod/conf).
      > >
      > > If Microsoft does adjust its server technology to make it more
      > > accessible, the Citrix add-ons should not present any further major
      > > problems. However the commercial relationship between Microsoft
      > > and Citrix is complex and ever-changing, with the two firms oscillating
      > > between partnership and competition. With this in mind Citrix is not
      > > simply waiting for Microsoft to adapt its software, but is committed to
      > > finding its own accessibility solutions by the second half of 2003.
      > >
      > > Some progress should be made this year, with the US 'section 508' law
      > > requiring accessibility of all technologies purchased by federal
      > > government agencies likely to be a further incentive for change.
      > >
      > > On the other hand, even if server technology is adapted to run screen
      > > readers centrally, technicians admit there could be problems with the
      > > bandwidth needed to send the sound output over the network without
      > > unacceptable time delays.
      > >
      > > Until lasting solutions to all these problems are found, however, Andy
      > > White says organisations should think carefully about the implications
      > > of their actions. "Any employer installing thin client technology is
      > > currently effectively making visually impaired employees redundant."
      > >
      > >
      > > Copyright 2003 Headstar Ltd http://www.headstar.com .
      > > The Bulletin may be reproduced as long as all parts including this
      > > copyright notice are included, and as long as people are always
      > > encouraged to subscribe with us individually by email. Please also
      > > inform the editor when you are reproducing our content. Sections of
      > > the report may be quoted as long as they are clearly sourced as 'taken
      > > from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter', and our web
      > > site address http://www.e-accessibility.com is also cited.
      > >
      > > PERSONNEL:
      > > Editor - Dan Jellinek dan@...
      > > Deputy editor - Phil Cain phil@...
      > > News editor - Derek Parkinson derek@...
      > > Reporter - Mel Poluck mel@...
      > > Editorial advisor - Kevin Carey humanity@... .
      > >
      > > ISSN 1476-6337
      > >
      > >
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      > >
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      > >
      > >
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