jaws for linux ?

Daniel daniel at kettonlane.me.uk
Sun Jan 29 20:48:09 GMT 2006

The best Linux application for users who are blind is probably T.V. Raman's 
emacsspeak, but it's installation is not easy, and it requires the user to 
learn emacs commands, to interact with it :P. However, it does ship with full 
Aural CSS support.


Elinks is another web-only speaking browser for Linux:


Since both JAWS and Windows Eyes are, effectively IE plugins, (Windows Eyes 
even relies upon the MS Active Accessibility layer, to work) it's virtually 
impossible to run them under linux, except via an emulation layer, at which 
point, we must ask ourselves "what's the point".

IBM's Nome Page Reader also plugs heavily into the MSAA layer.

Either way you're asking on a KDE list - which is the ultimate reason why 
maintaining any conversation about it here is probably futile. KDE is a 
*GUI*, and guess what the "G" stands for (no, not 'GNU' ;) ). The very 
nature /graphical/ interfaces, like KDE, like GNOME, like Windows or OSX's 
'Aqua', is that they're geared towards people who can actually /see/ what's 
being presented to them graphically, without any explanational text.

I think users who are blind would be better-served by a distribution which 
dispensed with the whole GUI idea, altogether, and designed something for 
them, specifically, with a text-based interface that started from their 
needs, first, rather than gloming those concerns onto an existing windowing 
system, as a semi-functional afterthought (and even the Microsoft's MSAA 
stuff is really just this sort of kludge).

These sorts of things need developers to actually /build/ software for them, 
however. For instance, did you know that Mac's have shipped with one of the 
best text-to-speech synthesisers in the business for /years/... right out of 
the box? Free, with the OS - and I mean, way back, before OS X even appeared? 
This should mean that OS X should now represent the default choice for users 
with visual impairments, as well as all those other users with other problems 
reading text, such as people who are dyslexic... Not so, however. It seems 
many Mac developers don't even know about the text-converter, either, since 
no one ever writes any software for it.

To be honest, I think the same would probably happen in OSS, even if the 
GNUSpeak project could ship a decent speech sythn, with a suitable choice of 
voices, and multilingual support... Why do all that work, developing that 
sublayer, when most developers are spending most of their time perfecting 
mouseover effects?

Now, if someone were to actually design a Linux distribution for users who 
have visual impairments, /predicated/ upon the idea that a Linux system is an 
OS where you can explicitly omit the GUI - and, thereby, build for people 
who, by /definition/, don't need it, you'd have a really compelling reason 
for users with disabilities to start looking towards GNU software for the 
answers to their needs. The problem is that there is a whole sublayer of very 
expensive-to-develop software, such as speech synthesis, text-to-speech, and 
so on, that needs to build up around GNU before anyone can act on this.

IBM has a whole accessibility subsidiary, called AbilityNet, operating at 
their Warwick, UK, campus: IBM are supposed to be a bit Linux-friendly... 
Maybe someone should lean on them, and ask them to 'put some loose change 
where the food goes in'?

Either way, I think this all goes way beyond what can be discussed on a KDE 
list! ;)

On Sunday 29 January 2006 11:40, tyche wrote:
> On Sunday 29 January 2006 02:28 pm, Kevin Krammer wrote:
> > On Sunday 29 January 2006 15:10, Mehmet Fatih AKBULUT wrote:
> > > hi all,
> > > i wonder something and like to ask to you all ;)
> > > is there any project going on for the blind people ?
> > > [like jaws under windows ?]
> >
> > As far as I understand it there is a working group for
> > accessibility across desktop environments and toolkits.
> >
> > The KDE branch of it uses the following mailinglist for
> > discussion, so it might be best to ask your question there:
> >
> > https://mail.kde.org/mailman/listinfo/kde-accessibility
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Kevin
> there is also a mail list called blinux that deals with it
> too. dont know the url right off hand. good luck in your
> search. have been looking for voice to text/text to voice
> application for awhile now, but have had no luck.
> tyche
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