Blind vs. mainstream distros

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Tue May 2 11:48:46 UTC 2017

Tony Baechler here. Samuel can comment on some points, but here are my thoughts:

On 5/1/2017 11:26 AM, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
> Did people actually complain about the beep? If so, I'm starting to
> think the sighted end-users aren't willing to make any compromise at
> all for the benefit of their blind peers.

Yes, there were a number of complaints. I remember the discussion at the 
time. It was agreed that development versions of D-I wouldn't have the beep. 
I've since read positive feedback from the sighted that the beep is useful 
to them too. This is another case where making a small accessibility change 
helped a wider audience.

> Though, while we're on the subject, is there any technical reason the
> beep couldn't be replaced with a prerecorded message that says "press
> s and enter for talking installer" or something similar?

Samuel can comment. The biggest problem has to do with loading sound drivers 
early in the boot process. It would take a lot of memory and slow down the 
boot time. Even as a blind person, I would find that annoying. The beep can 
be heard through the PC speaker and requires no sound drivers. I have yet to 
see a bootloader which actually supports sound. The beep is part of the menu 
system which is displayed by selinux.

> Ideally, any instructions beyond put the disc in and boot the computer
> should be provided by the disc itself, and to be quite frank,
> requiring the majority to make an extra key press the disc can
> instruct them to make strikes me as more reasonable than to make a
> minority make an extra key press when the disc has no way of telling
> them they need to.

This is already done after a fashion. If you read the .txt files in the 
boot/ directory, there should be a mention of the "s" shortcut. I read those 
anyway to learn what other boot options the CD supports. There is no way to 
have the text files read out when the CD starts, but any machine which can 
read the DVD or CD media should be able to display them. Even Windows 
Notepad works fine.

> Though, if there's a way to change which boot option is default on a
> Debian install disc, I'd like to hear it.

I think this can be done, but I don't know how.

> 2. Best I can tell, there's no way of rereading all or part of a
> specific screen within the installer, and any accidental key press
> during the reading of a new screen cuts off the reading.

It uses Speakup, so pressing Plus on the numeric keypad should read 
everything on the screen. I do agree that using the arrows would be nicer 
than having to hear a long menu and wait for the right number. Sometimes, 
text scrolls off the screen, in which case there isn't an easy way to repeat it.

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