Screen reader advice for a Linux sysadmin

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Wed Mar 7 15:06:43 UTC 2018

Hi, Bryan:

A few comments ...

I've not done it myself, but I understand you can indeed use VirtualBox
on a Mac as long as you do all the setup from the terminal. GUI
installation and configuration is apparently unavailable, but everything
one needs to do to get an accessible talking vm can be accomplished from
the cli. This is on my todo list, but it's not high on my current list
at the moment.

Parallels isn't doable. Forget Parallels.

When I had first Fedora, and then Arch running on my Mac Airbook, it was
under VMware. I believe I relied on sighted assistance for the Linux
side of the installation with Fedora. I honestly don't recall about
Arch--might have been fully accessible.

Configuring the vm was relatively straight forward. The process was
setting VMware for bridged networking and then assigning static IPs for
VMware guests via directly editing VMware configuration files on the
Mac, following which I could ssh to the guest vm and perform additional
setup. I opted for a no login configuration as running the guest vm
already required me to login on the Mac. I was able to configure my
Linux for multiple terminals via a script that ran openvt.

Running Speakup in the guest vm was snappy and fully functional. Running
Orca also worked, but was a bit trickier as there's more key mapping

The only thing I believe I could not get functioning, as I recall, was the beep on
backspace, but I'm also not confident this is true. It's been awhile
since I had this system. Basically, I got tired of sending VMware more
money every few months.

I did have difficulty moving back and forth between the vm and the host
OS. I never got that as clean as I would want.



Linux for blind general discussion writes:
> I would be curious to hear how you were successful in using a virtual box to run any other operating system when using a screen reader to interact with your machine? I have tried VMware Fusion on my Mac, Virtualbox, and Parallels with absolutely no great success. Virtualbox is completely inaccessible, Parallels only has a visual install process, and VMware fusion even through it was able to be installed and ran I was finding that no matter what I did some how the key commands I was issuing to my virtual machine acted as OS commands and took me out of th virtual machine. If you were in deed able to run a virtual instance of Linux on a Mac and rely on a screen reader for computer interaction I would be curious as to how you got it to work. 
> I agree Voiceover does lose focus of the terminal windo pretty often but I do not see much difference between issuing one command to interact with the shell or to enter flat review. One thing I did like about Orca was that when you issue the command in the console it begins reading from the top but just as with any other screen reader once you stop the speech it just places your cursor at the bottom of the output window.
> I have not used speakup before but at some point I will have to find the packages to get it on my Ubuntu box. I appreciate Orca for some things but it is not enough as a stand alone tool in my opinion. It would be great for someone to post some configerations of their Ubuntu box which uses Orca, Speakup, and whatever tools they use to make their machine the most efficient for the desktop, terminal, and with speech output. Thanks
> Bryan Duarte | software engineer
> ASU Computer Science Ph.D Student
> IGERT Fellow
> Alliance for Person-centered Accessible Technology (APAcT)
> Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC Lab)
> National Federation of the Blind of Arizona | Affiliate Board Member
> National Association of Blind Students | Board Member
> Arizona Association of Blind Students | President
> Phone: 480-652-3045
> > On Mar 5, 2018, at 8:36 AM, Linux for blind general discussion <blinux-list at> wrote:
> > 
> > Hi Janina and all,
> > 
> > On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 11:21:47AM -0500, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
> >>> 2. You said "After using a Mac for a few weeks at work I was very disappointed. 
> >>> Especialy the VoiceOver support in the terminal is not more then 
> >>> rudimentary compared to the things you can do with a screenreader on a 
> >>> linux system."
> >>> 
> >> This is my experience precisely with my Mac Airbook.
> >> 
> >> In fact, while traveling with only the Airbook, I would ssh from a
> >> VMware Linux session into my Mac to do Mac terminal tasks, because of
> >> the superior screen reader support.
> > 
> > I also did it that way and installed a VM with Debian in VMware Fusion 
> > to get my tasks, that needed to be done in a terminal, done on my Mac 
> > Book Air.
> > 
> >> As noted above, braille would viciate my statement. I'm speaking of TTS
> >> only interfacing.
> > 
> > Me too. Because I learned braille when I was 15 years old, tts is much 
> > more important to me than braille. I only use braille when programming 
> > or to format text.
> > 
> > VoiceOver might have a nicer voice then speakup, espeak or other linux 
> > screenreaders, but navigating the screen is much mor difficult. Also VO 
> > very ofthen looses focus, is overloaded with much output of the console, 
> > e.g., and I have not found any settings on my Mac to make those things 
> > better.
> > 
> > Ciao,
> > 
> >  Schoepp
> > 
> > -- 
> > Christian Schoepplein - <chris (at)> -
> > 
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> >
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Janina Sajka

Linux Foundation Fellow
Executive Chair, Accessibility Workgroup:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
Chair, Accessible Platform Architectures

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