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Open letter WRI and accessibility

Posted 1 year ago
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A bit about me.... Due to Rubella, I was born legally blind in one eye/blind in the other; and legally deaf in one ear and deaf in the other. Have also some brain damage. However, I do not need to be repaired. It took a long time to encounter math teachers who saw I can do and enjoy doing mathematics; but it was an ordeal. As a young man I walked away from a math dept that would not effectively accommodate me. I was the one who tutored most of the A students. But one day while working with a PET computer (yes an oldie) I wondered if there was a way computers can help me do math without the visual struggle.

My start with MMA About the time Mathematica (MMA) was inside a NeXT computer, I was able to enjoy exploring math very easily (at least for a 2 hr test drive); I cried with joy. Note, the low resolution and sharp gray scale contrast screen really helped me see well MMA. But the pricing was just out of my reach. Pricing can be an effective gate keeper. I gave up instead focused on my art and scholarly research in other areas. I put math away; it was part of my past now. In 2000, MMA Home Edition came along; wow. Had many friends chip in to help me buy it. However there were many many aspects of HE that was visually difficult for us who are visually impaired. I sent in bug reports with screenshots; had long talks with support. It was not going well. It was like WRI never tested for accessibility! Another upgrade years later, I encountered a brilliant, patient support person who truly valued my bugs/reports and wanted me to finally enjoy using MMA. B., bless you! It was not easy to hammer out a stylesheeet notebook to help me (which is somewhat broken in 12.1.1). Some years later I was granted a long powerful conversation with J. Flutz on UI frontend accessibly improvements. The hints/refinement/auto complete features later on really helped. But there remain many many small bugs that hinder visually impaired users. And bugs not fixed reported many years ago.

MMA now and accessibility I started as an alpha/beta tester in 1986 eventually became a well respected and well paid tester in 1993. So when I report bugs and make UI suggestions, they are usually on the mark. Along the decades I learned how most companies are not welling to put effort and funding towards solid testing and well thought out accessibility. I have heard every excuse in the book by now for poor testing and lack of accessibly design. I have read many many postings about bugs and accessibility bugs over years. Today I paid for HE 12.1.1 0 -- I had for a true 64 bit version; found it has the same bugs and UI accessibility problems I reported many years ago. For my POV, WRI is not trying hard enough to address accessibility because they can get away with it; forcing the user to make due. Why should I put up with WRI not willing to put the best efforts and funds toward accessibility. Should 12.1.1 be my last affordable version? I fear deeply the pricing of WRI and lack of accessibility.

One more item, I resent WRI legal embargo on me selling my work with MMA so I can afford to upgrade (I live on 12k a year); lets be clear, the embargo was done to force me to spend 2k+ on a none HE. WRI chould have made a 100.00 MMA that covers 85% of math needs for students long ago; but chose not to. Its called upsale and lock in.

Friday morning, I wrestle with Support to try to fix bugs before I am no longer allowed to get tech support. I can't afford 175.00 a years support plan.

POSTED BY: Andrew Meit
2 Replies

Hi Andrew,

Just read your post. I will reach out to you today to help you with the issues you raise.

Thanks, Arnoud

POSTED BY: Arnoud Buzing
Posted 1 year ago

Arnoud, Thank you! You gave me hope. I got your email and responded.

POSTED BY: Andrew Meit
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