Blind vs. mainstream distros

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Fri Apr 28 18:14:15 UTC 2017

I've been blind since birth, so for me, I can work with half-working
	accessibility, but I sure don’t like it. Freedom is good, but
	the houses we’ve built ourselves still have leaks. So, more than
	anything, we need developers who won’t put important things,
	like accessibility, or if they are in accessibility, Braille, at
	the bottom of a large to do list. We need some one who will try
	to bridge the gap for us, make Unicode speak with eSpeak or some
	other synthesizer or put it into speech dispatcher, we need some
	one who will work on Braille support in Orca, we need some one
	who will make accessibility cleaner and less, jagged to new
	users as I was. If that takes money, then sure. If that takes
	moving to a mainstream distro, sure. I’m just laying out what
	young folks expect, I’m not judging, or rather, I’m trying not
	to judge, the current maintainers of eSpeak, Speech Dispatcher,
	and Orca. I’m sure they have their own things to work on, but if
	we want the young blind to use Linux, we’ll have to get to work
	at a faster pace than we’ve been going for the last, I suspect,
	20 years.
Sent from Discordia using Gnus for Emacs.
Email: r.d.t.prater at
Long days and pleasant nights!

Linux for blind general discussion <blinux-list at> writes:

> eric oyen here…
> I was blinded as a young adult (age 23). before that time, I had
> perfect eyesight and a penchant for things adrenaline rush! I still
> have the need for speed, so to speak, but being totally blind puts a
> crimp on some things.
> One of the biggest frustrations I have is with inaccessible
> technology. It either works for me or it doesn't. there is no in
> between. Linux works for me, as does OS X. SOme of the applications
> made for OS X aren't accessible and I spend a lot of time convincing
> the software vendors to make some needed changes.
> With Linux, I have several choices for accessibility, including ORCA,
> Speakup, emacspeak, BrlTTY and some others. Each works well in its own
> arena. ORCA works best in a GTK based desktop environment and can also
> handle terminal ops as well. the Others are best in console/terminal
> applications. Only BrlTTY has the ability to output braille to a
> supported device. It would be nice if ORCA supported this in desktop
> mode, but that begins to get overly complicated.
> One Other gripe I have is with a lot of the technology vendors and
> developers. Most of them either don't account for the blind using
> their products, or, in some cases just don't care (A particular case
> in point is Theo DeRaadt of the OpenBSD consortium). The only reason I
> mention a name here is that the individual in question made it plainly
> clear that we (as the blind) are a nonexistent and that we are not
> worth any kind of effort to appease. You would figure that a guy who
> has developed an OS and packages for 30 years would have some idea
> that there are more than just those with working eyeballs using his
> product. NOPE! SUre, there are a lot of developers who do good work
> and some even help us, but the vast majority either don't know or
> can't be bothered to find out. In fact, the sense I get is that we
> (the blind) aren't really even considered human. A lot of this can be
> blamed on social inertia, but there is some that can be pointed right
> at prejudice and ignorance.
> so, what do folks like me do about it? We keep pushing. Twist that arm
> until it breaks, or shame them into doing the right thing. Mind you,
> the last 2 are tools of last resort, but I have already had to
> exercise them at least once (and it left a bad taste).
> Now, one of the ways I can see us tackling this problem is to have an
> association that actually has some financial pull. get enough of us
> together and start petitioning the various technology vendors (Dell,
> HP, Lenovo, and others) into including linux as an install option.
> Also, get hold of folks at the EFI consortium to petition them to
> remove the microsoft sponsored security item that would prevent linux
> from being installed. Hell, if need be, get a kickstarter going to
> fund some of these efforts.
> Now, I know there is already an international blind technologist
> association. It wouldn't hurt for all of us to join it. It further
> wouldn't hurt if we could also get the IEEE on board as an industry
> sponsor. Also, the free software foundation and the EFF. You start
> getting big names like this involved and things start to happen.
> anyway, thats my take on the issues and how to solve some of them.
> -eric
> On Apr 28, 2017, at 6:20 AM, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
>> Now that I think about it, I have no idea what the mixture of "blind
>> from birth/a young age" and "blinded as an adult" is on this list, and
>> I would imagine these groups would have very different perspectives. I
>> myself was blinded in the right eye before I could form memories, but
>> my left eye was good enough for anything short of driving until I was
>> 25, and best I can tell, the biggest loss from lacking binocular
>> vision is not being able to bring magic eye pictures into focus and
>> having to watch 3D movies in 2-D.
>> For a blind child using a computer for the first time, Tony is
>> probably right that accessibility is the deciding factor. For an adult
>> whose been a sighted computer user most of their life and was just
>> recently blinded, I suspect familiarity plays a bigger role.
>> When my left eye failed, I sought out a screen reader for Linux, and
>> clung on to the first distro I found that let me go from an unusable
>> system to a blind usable system without sighted assistance, but I had
>> also been a full-time Linux user for the past 6 or 7 years at that
>> point, felt lost whenever I had to use Windows 7 on a school computer,
>> and didn't relish the idea of giving up the power of the Linux
>> terminal or the convenience of Aptitude for installing/removing
>> software, and I doubt I could ever give NVDA a fair chance even
>> running on XP, the last version of Windows I was ever comfortable
>> using. If anything, I would expect someone who has been using Windows
>> since the 9x days and suddenly found themselves blinded would be even
>> more reluctant to give Linux a fair chance than the sighted Windows
>> user, probably feeling that learning to use Windows with a screen
>> reader and without a monitor is a big enough challenge.
>> Though, a thought occurred to me regarding helping new blind linux
>> users learn the ropes, and it's something non-devs could contribute
>> to. How feasible would it be to produce a CD-length audio tutorial
>> that could be shipped along side install media for either a blind
>> customized distro or the talking version of a mainline distro? Perhaps
>> with the discs having brailled/embossed text on their labels that give
>> the distro's name and version with one disc saying install and the
>> other saying tutorial. The tutorial disc could also be offered for
>> download in mp3, ogg vorbis, and flac, and if there's an image format
>> that can preserve the data and audio tracks of a mixed-mode CD,
>> perhaps offer an image where the data track boots a live environment
>> that only plays the tutorial for the benefit of those who don't own a
>> CD player and don't have a pre-existing accessible CD player
>> application on their computer. If there's such a thing as a mixed-mode
>> DVD, you could even combine the install and tutorial discs and expand
>> the tutorials to include videos for sighted individuals assisting the
>> blind user or who will be sharing the system with the blind user, and
>> again with the disc being able to boot a live environment that can
>> play the tutorials in the absence of other means.
>> Such wouldn't be easy to produce, especially since effective teaching
>> is hard, especially without student-teacher interaction, but such
>> could go a long way towards making accessible Linux have a reasonable
>> learning curve to those who weren't already experienced Linux users
>> before they needed accessibility, and again, it's something blind
>> Linux users who aren't devs could contribute to. Putting the tutorials
>> on YouTube would probably be useful as well, but I still think
>> bundling the tutorial with the install media and ensuring as much of
>> the target audience can listen to them with existing equipment does
>> the most to reduce the barrier to entry.
>> -- 
>> Sincerely,
>> Jeffery Wright
>> President Emeritus, Nu Nu Chapter, Phi Theta Kappa.
>> Former Secretary, Student Government Association, College of the Albemarle.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Blinux-list mailing list
>> Blinux-list at
> _______________________________________________
> Blinux-list mailing list
> Blinux-list at

More information about the Blinux-list mailing list