Thread Subject: Re: 1194.3 (f)
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From: David Poehlman
Date: Mon, May 07 2007 8:50 AM
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The bios is also resident and can be accessed while windows is running. As
for boot, it can be captured to a log.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Korn" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
To: "TEITAC General Interface Accessibility Subcommittee"
< = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2007 12:36 AM
Subject: Re: [teitac-general] 1194.3 (f)
> Subject provision says "Products located in spaces frequented only by
> service personnel for maintenance, repair, or occasional monitoring of
> equipment are not required to comply with this part."
> Is this the root of the paucity of BIOS accessibility being in the state
> it's in? Or has "spaces" been somehow defined to exclude cyber-spaces?
> Modification of the BIOS is often seen as out-of-bounds for
> accessibility rules.
I think this has more to do with history, awareness, outsourcing, and
technical viability than with "back office". Few if any of the
companies that make x86/x64-based systems make their own BIOS - they get
it from someone else. Thus a company that knows a lot about making PCs
accessible, and takes care in what OS they bundle with their systems,
has a choice of a few BIOS from companies that may not be all that savvy
about accessibility. Beyond that, a BIOS is typically very small (as
compared to something like UNIX or Windows or MacOS), and it is
difficult of not nearly impossible to integrate a 3rd party AT product
on top of it (and yet still maintain support for the primary OS, running
alongside the AT on top of the BIOS). That means that the BIOS would
have to be self-accessible (essentially treating that component as a
"closed system"). But how self-accessible can a BIOS be, when it has to
run and display configuration output before most I/O devices are
connected (e.g. no serial port or USB port support for a Braille
display; no audio support yet for text-to-speech [and certainly no
ability to run much in the way of a software TTS system]).
In discussions we've had in the UNIX accessibility community about
access early in the boot process - including BIOS accessibility - the
best we've come up with is:
1. a mode in which all output is sent to a serial port at a known set
of settings (e.g. 9600/8/n/1) - though of course this fails if what you
need to do is configure serial I/O support
2. a few .WAV files that get sent to the speaker at key points in the
boot process, and while going through the BIOS settings user interface -
though of course this fails if what you need to do is configure the
3. making the BIOS UI as friendly to low vision as possible - large
crisp fonts, good contrast
But beyond that, we haven't managed to see a technical way to address
this. Fundamentally this is more of a "fundamental alternation"
situation than a "back office" one. The function of the BIOS is to
provide a level of software "service access" to a not-yet-fully-running
system. There is no way we could provide native voice recognition
access, or single switch access (just to pick to) to the BIOS.
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
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