Advice for blind Linux newbie

Herzog herzog at
Thu Jul 6 22:08:01 UTC 2006

  You gave great advise. so tell the "Somebody will probably jump all 
over me here, ....." to make a simpler sound Linux install. I've been 
following the list for years, still awaiting something better than our 
win 98, Jaws and Eudora. It just has not yet come, at any cost. Will

David Andrews wrote:

> Hello>:
> I have a couple observations -- some of which won't be popular on a 
> Linux list. First, it is a bit tricky to install ZoomText and JAWS on 
> the same computer. Secondly, it is an even worse idea to run both at 
> the same time.
> I suspect you are right that only using each half way is causing your 
> friend problems. Whether visually impaired or totally blind, a person 
> will ultimately benefit from learning how to do things in Windows, or 
> another OS, with keystrokes. It can help to have an idea of what the 
> screen looks like, but not absolutely necessary. I think a good 
> teacher could use analogies to convey various ideas to a student.
> I am not convinced a switch to Linux will solve your friend's 
> problems. Somebody will probably jump all over me here, I assure you I 
> am not a Linux basher. I have a Sun Cobalt server in my basement after 
> all.
> However you point to one of the problems with Linux yourself, when you 
> say "What distro should I use." At some point, most Unix and Linux 
> discussions ultimately degrade into a "my distribution is better than 
> yours." It is counter productive and dissipates much of the advantages 
> that the OS may have.
> Linux is not for the faint of heart, or newbie. If you set everything 
> up for your friend, and maintain it, it might work for him/her, but it 
> may not. There can be long commands to memorize, etc.
> Further, relatively speaking there are many more blind and visually 
> impaired Windows users than Linux users, so there is a community of 
> users, lists, tutorials, trainers, consultants etc. out there. This 
> pool of resources is not as large in Linux, and ultimately they start 
> arguing about the relative merits of their particular installations.
> Write me off list, and we can discuss other training alternatives, 
> etc. It is possible that another approach might work. I would guess 
> you are a sighted person, and may have a mouse orientation. I am not 
> trying to be critical, just realistic.
> Dave
> At 04:59 AM 7/6/2006, you wrote:
>> Hi, I have just subscribed. Hello to everyone. I was hoping for some 
>> advice. My friend is visually impaired and has been struggling with 
>> windows for the last year. The GUI is what is causing him the most 
>> problems. As he has never been able to see well enough to grasp 
>> concepts such as tabs, menus and the desktop, he often gets lost and 
>> doesn't know where he is. His learning has come to a halt and he is 
>> getting frustrated, so I have come here. I have wanted to try Linux 
>> myself and thought I could learn a little along the way by setting it 
>> up for him.
>> On windows he uses Zoomtext (screen magnifier) and Jaws (screen 
>> reader). I think this causes him more problems as he won’t rely on 
>> either completely.
>> So I am looking for a simple setup that allows him to play music, 
>> read emails and browse the web. Can anyone recommend which Linux 
>> distros I could use and what I should install for accessibility with 
>> your reasons please?
>> This would be a great help.
>> Thank you
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> David Andrews and white cane Harry.
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