Introducing F123e

Fernando Botelho Fernando.Botelho at
Mon Oct 17 13:49:32 UTC 2016

Hi everyone,

We are a diverse group which includes both software developers and 
non-technical persons who are blind. Since so much of computer-use is 
done through graphical user interfaces (GUI), we believe that it is 
important to support the technical development of and be able to use 
technologies such as the Orca and NVDA screen readers. However, there 
are times when we can choose how to use our computers, and for those 
times, we must be able to use technology that truly maximizes our 
efficiency and effectiveness. Moreover, being extraordinarily productive 
should not be a privilege available only to those who are technically 
sophisticated, but to everyone who is willing to invest some time in 
becoming fluent with their digital tools.

We are impressed with the productivity demonstrated by blind users of 
Emacs, the efficiency of the VIM interface design, and with the fact 
that these tools have been under constant development for roughly four 
decades. Moreover, the evolution of these tools, with recent mutations 
such as NeoVIM and Spacemacs, demonstrate that the communities of 
developers responsible for them are as vibrant as ever.

However, there is very little awareness of the existence of these tools 
among the general blind public, installation procedures are in some 
cases inadequate or non-existent, there is no training for non-technical 
users that we are aware of, and the choices of keyboard shortcuts (or 
key bindings), can be at times unnecessarily arbitrary. However, we 
believe that these and other obstacles can be overcome by our community.

Just like some of the most talented sighted developers in the world have 
assumed responsibility for developing, maintaining, and improving tools 
that they consider essential for their productivity, so can we, the 
blind, take on the challenge of developing and supporting the 
adaptations that make such technologies accessible to us. With this in 
mind, the informal group we are calling F123e (or F 1 2 3 experimental), 
will work towards achieving the following objectives:

* making it extremely easy for both developers and non-technical blind 
users to install ARCH Linux and other needed software on virtual or 
actual machines in order to test, learn, or use the tools they need to 
maximize their productivity.
* Automate the installation process for Emacspeak and make sure it can 
work with Spacemacs.
* Develop content to make it easier for non-technical blind persons to 
install, learn, and use these technologies for work, education, or leisure.

We will have an ISO image that will bring all these pieces together, but 
most of the automation will rely on BASH scripts, so those interested in 
other operating systems can also benefit from this work. The choice of 
Spacemacs can be best understood by reading the description of the 
project (

If you too, would like to have tools that maximize your productivity, 
please join our group by sending an e-mail message to:
F123e+subscribe at

Getting an ambitious project like this one started is not easy, so we 
want to thank everyone who has already joined our list, as well as Kyle 
Brouhard, for helping us with our own version of the Talking ARCH ISO; 
Lucas Radaelli, for his work on a new speech server for Emacspeak 
written in C++; Travis Hartwell, for exploring the Spacemacs + Emacspeak 
challenges; and Michael Pozhidaev, for helping us spread the word about 
all this among blind developers. Of course, we are just getting started. 
Please help us by sharing this with people you think will be supportive.

Best regards,

Fernando Botelho

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