The User Rings

Imagine, for a moment, that there is a ring. It's dim and gray, lifeless. There are many rings encircling it, but these are darker, more foreboding than the central ring. You hold in your hand a light, which can only shine inward. How will you proceed?

Let's try putting the light in the central ring, and see what happens. You place the light on the rim of the ring, and step back, watching the light fill the central ring with vibrant, lively color.


Darkness is all I know. I stand in the center of my ring, one of the outermost rings in the system. It's cold here, dark, no one wants to come near us, for fear of catching our Darkness. I don't blame them. We fight so much. Just thinking of battle makes me feel… better. Like I have something to blame. Someone to hate.

I sigh, looking up. Up at the Light ring. The central ring. No one wants us anywhere near there.

But I wanted it. Or to bring them out. Yes, I would destroy their Light, make them feel our anguish, our despair, our hate. I tell my tired and beaten-down body to move. To Climb the rings, to seek that Light, and snuff it out. I would find whoever put that light there, and make them feel my pain, my agony.

Well that wasn't such a good story, now was it? Let's hope that guy doesn't find you, right? Here, let's reset and try again. This time, let's put the Light on the outermost ring, and see what happens.


Light reassures me as I stand on the rim of my ring. I feel it's heat, and people from other rings say it allows them to sense things from a distance, to know what's around without them making sounds. That's alright. We have machines that use the light, like Investiture or a power source, to tell us what's around. In my free time, I enjoy exploring the rings, helping people, and anything else I can do for our system. I look to the next ring, where some of my family live. I jump there, and spend a while searching for things new in the ring. I scan the describer device upward, to further rings, and to the central ring, which, I'm told, glows with the casted light of all other rings. I lift my face, and feel the warmth of the Light.

That night, I dream of another world, where the Light has chosen to selfishly glow only on the central ring. I woke up sobbing at the idea. Seeing the people, filled with fear and hurt and pain, just barely surviving, and beg Elyon to have mercy on those people, if they do exist.

Ah, that's better. Since the central ring already has some light, putting the big Light on the outer ring allows the light to move inward, giving all rings light, not just one. Yet, software and web developers selfishly think of the central ring, which stands for “the 99%” or “majority” of people, and disregard those who need their services the most. Thus, people with disabilities, neurodivergent people, people who don't speak English, people who have trouble reading, people who have trouble processing images, Autistic people, and so many others live in a world that slaps them in the face every moment of every day.

Technology doesn't care. Bits and bytes can be used to help people with disabilities in so many ways. Yet, they are used, in so many ways, by the ignorant abled people, to bar access to so many things, from playing video games to COVID tests. And we can't even move towards the Light, as it were. With Linux, the free and Open Source system, made by abled people, almost every desktop environment has huge accessibility issues. In fact, even if you find a good one, you still have to enable Assistive Technology Support. And now, the Mate desktop, which has been the most accessible we have, only because it's based on Gnome 2 from 10+ years ago, and is starting to show its age. Chrome-based apps, like VS Code and Google Chrome, crash out of nowhere. Pidgin crashes while writing a long message. And if a Chrome-based app crashes, Orca is lost, and one has to immediately set focus to the desktop or it'll be totally lost until it sees a dialog it creates.

So, that means we can't even get into a great position to learn to make our own stuff, from some of the best courses like the Odin project, which requires you either use Linux, MacOS, or the Linux system on Chromeos. Windows, the most accessible system, which is supported by a large community of blind developers, and is created by a company which, in recent times, is getting more into accessibility, isn't allowed.

So think on this, when inspiration strikes for a new site, a new app, a new package. If you help the least of us, you'll help the best of us too!

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Devin Prater @devinprater