Thread Subject: Re: 1194.3 (e)
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From: David Poehlman
Date: Mon, May 07 2007 9:25 AM
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Hi Peter and all,
There is software that allows you to write directly to the bios while the
system is running fully. I believe that it does part of its task when the
system is rebooted but it does allow access to the bios at a high level.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Korn" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
To: "TEITAC General Interface Accessibility Subcommittee"
< = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2007 10:57 AM
Subject: Re: [teitac-general] 1194.3 (e)
Hi David, Gregg,
You both are saying similar things, so I'll just quote David:
> Making the bios accessible to a screen reader is not trivial but may not
> mean a fundamental alteration of the os or the bios.
My point is if (one of) the function(s) of a BIOS is to provide low
level access for configuring things like serial ports and audio devices
before the system is booted, then making that configuration user
interface talk (via that not-yet-working audio device) is in conflict
with what the BIOS' function. To do so would fundamentally alter the
BIOS (it would loose that functionality, and some "lower level still"
function would be needed for servicing the machine to enable audio.
Likewise for a serial/USB-connected Braille display.
For most software (including most AT), you need enough of the system up
and running in order for them to work. The point of the BIOS
configuration user interface it to allow someone to configure and
service a machine that is mostly NOT yet up and running.
There are some things you can do (e.g. text size, contrast setting, and
potentially optionally routing all input/output to a serial port
[something we do in Solaris on SPARC processor systems that aren't
running an x86/x64 BIOS]), but there are a great many that you can't.
Potentially a wholesale redesign of how a BIOS works could get you a lot
more functionality - but such a change might well require changes in the
software layers that sit on top of the BIOS (e.g. breaking existing
copies of Windows and Linux and ...), which again would fundamentally
alter the product, because it forces the product to become incompatible
with the hundreds of millions of copies of operating system software out
in the field that is depending upon certain behaviors. It essentially
would stop being a "PC BIOS" as we commonly think of the term - a
To be clear - I'd like to see this technical problem solved. But it is
a very hard problem.
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Peter Korn" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> To: "TEITAC General Interface Accessibility Subcommittee"
> < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> Sent: Monday, May 07, 2007 1:31 AM
> Subject: Re: [teitac-general] 1194.3 (e)
> Hi William,
>> And then there's the subject provision which could be construed as a
>> backdoor to avoid "inconvenient accessibility": "This part shall not be
>> construed to require a fundamental alteration in the nature of a product
>> or its components."
>> What has been decided (and by whom) if some particular requirement might
>> "require a fundamental alteration"?
> I don't see how this can be other than a determination by the folks
> making the product - perhaps with some questions answer to demonstrate
> it, and with the incentive of competition from others who might
> demonstrate that they can deliver the same product, but accessible, thus
> demonstrating that it isn't a fundamental alternation of how they
> deliver the technology.
> My previous e-mail about BIOS accessibility is a fine example of this -
> it would fundamentally alter what a BIOS is if we were to insist that it
> be accessible out of the box to someone who can't see (and likewise a
> fundamental alternate to make it compatible with a 3rd party screen
> Also, fundamental alteration appropriately includes cost in the equation
> - a redesign of a subsystem to make it accessible might entail changing
> all of the pieces on top of it (e.g. making a BIOS work with a screen
> reader might mean that MS-Windows itself would have to be redesigned in
> order to work with that modified BIOS). Since this theoretical change
> would mean things that used the BIOS would have to change, it results in
> a fundamental alteration of the BIOS (and alternations of the things
> that use the BIOS - a good test if the alternation is 'fundamental') to
> accomplish the accessibility.
> Peter Korn
> Accessibility Architect,
> Sun Microsystems, Inc.