Re: [magnifiers] THIN CLIENTS RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS?
- Hi peter,
Interesting stuff here. Keep us up to date on this.
"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@...>
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: email@example.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
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> > 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.
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