Screen reader advice for a Linux sysadmin

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Tue Feb 27 21:27:05 UTC 2018

well, there are several options in a straight linux environment. 

ORCA is, by far, the most used for any of the Desktop managers in Linux and X. It works best in GTK and Gnome based DM's and is mostly usable in KDE.

There is also Speakup for console operations. This along with BrlTTY, Emacsspeak and some of the lessor known console based TTS engines are useful. The first 3 are most commonly used and are quite configurable.

As an aside, I have found JAVA to be notorious for it's lack of accessibility, even in an OS X environment (I use a mac here and always have problems with Java, especially when the accessibility classes are not used) I have not tried java outside of windows or OS X, but there might be better results inside of Linux.

btw, NVDA can handle some things in windows that Jaws can't, and Vice Versa. I have often found that you need to have both (not running at the same time). Also, there are some apps in windows that are just plain inaccessible, regardless of whatever screen reader gets used (case in point is the safari web browser which presents what amounts to a blank scroll area). I have written apple accessibility on that issue and am not sure if they ever got around to addressing those issues.

btw, one additional item you might wish to explore, learning braille. Believe me, it will come in handy especially when you are editing scripts and the screen reader makes a hash of it so far as reading them is concerned.

Now, I am largely a self taught Linux System Administrator. I have used the OSsince late 1998 (along side windows and after 2008, OS X as well). Each OS has it's good points and can do some stuff that others might not.

lastly, you might find working inside a VM a little frustrating without a screen reader on the inside it. Most screen readers on the host OS cannot read what's inside the application pane of virtually any VM (parallels, VmWare, etc). These panes are designed to emulate the direct output of a monitor connected to the Vm, so it will be graphical in presentation as well as base nature.

I hope this helps you.
On Feb 27, 2018, at 11:55 AM, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:

> Hi everyone --
> I just joined this list and I am a Linux sysadmin who has been in IT for
> over 20 years and my sight now is pretty close to nothing.  I am down to
> about 5 degrees of vision and going to nothing at some point, so am
> starting to look at screen readers to get used to them before everything
> goes dark.  I'm looking to see what other Linux users use and what works
> best.  I have a somewhat complicated desktop because I work in an
> engineering environment that has a lot of engineering tools based on java
> and X-Windows.  Some of the other tools are web based, which makes it
> easier.  I support a lot of varying tools and servers, both Linux and
> Windows.  I switched back from Linux to Windows as my base desktop for the
> accessibility functions.  I have cygwin installed so I can ssh to my
> servers.  I also use VNC Viewer so I can get to a VNC session on my servers
> in a gui and I also use RDP to get to my Windows servers.  I have decided
> that I loathe JAWS in the short time that I have tried it but admittedly I
> have not used it for very long.  I so far like NVDA much better and find it
> much more simple to learn.  I also use a Mac at home so have toyed with
> Voiceover.  I'm beginning to think that one screen reader is not going to
> do it all for me.  And that I just need to get used to one of them to
> start.  NVDA can read and understand a cygwin window, which is great.  It
> has zero idea what is inside a VNC viewer session.  I haven't yet tried it
> on an RDP session with Windows.  I know ORCA is available as well on
> Linux.  What do you all use?  Any advice?  I'm wondering if I would be
> better off with a Mac as my base operating system since I've heard
> Voiceover handles Java apps better.
> Thanks for the advice!
> Kathy
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