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The State of Linux Accessibility

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-inclusive dept.

Operating Systems 138

Dog's_Breakfast writes "This week's edition of DistroWatch Weekly News features a unique story entitled 'Linux Accessibility — What is it and Why Does It Matter?' The article was written by Robert Cole, a blind person with a computer science degree. Mr Cole points out that Linux offers an excellent set of free tools for seeing-impaired users. Putting together a similar set of tools on Windows would cost at least US$600, about double what a retail copy of Windows itself costs."

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Linux (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40064855)

Close your eyes. Let your mind take control. And turn your brain into a dance floor.

Dance floor build initiated.

Start the drums. Building graph sequence. And the baseline created the melody. Melody programmed.

Now, add the people. Enter access code... Access granted.

Welcome to the dance floor. Here is your DJ, Armin van Buuren. This is... THE STATE OF LINUX ACCESSABILITY!

Re:Linux (1)

schitso (2541028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40064925)

Well I thought it was funny.

It's super accessible (2)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#40064905)

Because you can do everything with the command line. Keyboard text input. Spoken text output.

Re:It's super accessible (-1, Troll)

partofme (2643183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065045)

I would just suggest getting Mac OS X. Apple has really done well with accessibility. You also still get the underlying unix system if you want to, but the UI is great too. You may think it's not a huge thing, but you'll see once you try. And people do say how crappy the Linux desktop UI's are now, like Unity and the new Gnome.

Re:It's super accessible (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065191)

No thanks. I prefer Unity over OSX and certainly over the upcoming Windows 8 abomination.

It's a miracle!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065575)

"...... but you'll see once you try."

Worth a try indeed....

Re:It's super accessible (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065855)

The Mac OSX userland is much better than something horrible like Windows but it's very dated compared to a recent Linux distro.

Re:It's super accessible (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066779)

Apple has really done well with accessibility.

I remember an exchange here that went like this (Google can't find it, because the Googlebot has better things to do than remember four year old slashdot posts. Unlike me)

Primus: .... The Macs UI us hard to use. You need to click on the very narrow window border to resize the window.

Secundus: Very narrow border? What are you, some kind of spastic?

Tertius: Mac fans show their people skills once again.

Re:It's super accessible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40066783)

You're missing the big point here mr iTroll...The author is tired of getting ripped off by commercial software!!!!

Re:It's super accessible (1)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065155)

Because you can do everything with the command line. Keyboard text input. Spoken text output.

I guess we'll see a decrease in Perl programmers among non-visual users then.

It's so bad that Slashdot's filter bitched about junk characters until I but out about 50% of the program:
open(Q,$0);while(){if(/^#(.*)$/){for(split('-',$1)){$q=0;for(split){s/\| /:.:/xg;s/:/../g;$Q=$_?length:$_;$q+=$q?$Q:$Q*20;}print chr($q);}}}print"\n";

Re:It's super accessible (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065341)

There's always cobol. Of course I haven't programmed in cobol in about 7 years but I remember PIC lines were pretty hellish

    001 IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
    002 PROGRAM-ID. 'HELLO'.
    003 ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
    004 CONFIGURATION SECTION.
    005 SOURCE-COMPUTER. IBM-360.
    006 OBJECT-COMPUTER. IBM-360.

(Shamelessly copied from wikipedia, but lets be realistic, cobol is not exactly a language for the worlds unique snowflakes, on MVS everything above but line 2 always must look like that, in that exact order).

Re:It's super accessible (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066855)

Cobol is one of the most audibly readable languages there is.
"multiply a by b giving c" sounds a lot better than "c equalsign a asterisk b semicolon".

If I were to vote for the language that is the hardest to understand when read out loud (whether by machine or human), my vote would not go to perl, but lisp. With perl, at least you have the option to make it somewhat readable. Good luck balancing lisp parentheses correctly.

Not to mention typical block comments (in most any language), where you risk hearing five minutes of "asterisk asterisk asterisk asterisk..."

Re:It's super accessible (1, Funny)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065677)

And with GIMP having a single window interface at last, there's no excuse left for a blind person to stick to Windows/Osx.

Re:It's super accessible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068517)

why hasn't this been modded 'Funny'?

Buy A Mac (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40064909)

Most of the visually impaired users I talk with at my university prefer to buy Apple products. For whatever else it does, Apple has baked accessibility into its products in a way that no other OS comes close to.

Re:Buy A Mac (4, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065297)

Odd, being highly visually impared, I've found Windows to be much easier to work with than a Mac. Mind you, I'm not completely blind, so I don't know about how well the screen reader software is (though, in my experience, it isn't so bad). Also, without doing anything special, I can use the keyboard for almost everything in Windows. The only Mac user I know, who uses the keyboard for everything, had to do quite a lot of tweaking to set it up.

Re:Buy A Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40066277)

Apple - so beautiful even blind people prefer it!

Re:Buy A Mac (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067563)

OS X is still the only OS that doesn't have any way to uniformly scale all UI elements up (say, to 150%). Which is a major pain if you have poor eyesight, or just want to use a Mac Mini with a 30" TV.

Something must be wrong with me... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40064931)

...Because when I saw "accessibility" I immediately thought "ease-of-use" and had a laugh.

Re:Something must be wrong with me... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065291)

I had the same experience when I booted up the latest Windows8 preview.

No speech recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40064935)

Glad the blind are doing so well.

A lot of people can't leave windows without speech recognition.

sphynx is worthless.

From the article... (5, Informative)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#40064945)

When you boot up an Ubuntu live CD or USB drive, press CTRL+S when you hear a drum sound. This will start the Orca screen reader, and you can either try Ubuntu using Orca or install Ubuntu with your eyes closed; it's entirely your choice. I was able to do a complete installation (including partitioning my drives) without having to look at my screen!

Didn't know about this option. I have to say that this is pretty cool.

Which side is up? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065137)

I just wonder how a blind user knows whether the install CD is inserted the right way up in the first place.

Re:Which side is up? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065197)

Burn the same thing on both sides. Or rely on the fact that a sticker feels different from the plastic on the side with the data.

Re:Which side is up? (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065785)

You've already seen a double side CD? I didn't think so. It does not exists because the CD is 1.2mm thick and the distance btw the laser and the dye layer is supposed to be 1.2mm as well... So your dye layer is necessarily on one edge of the CD. Since it is supposed to be opaque, a laser could not see though it if you flipped it on the other side.

DualDIsc (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065943)

You've already seen a double side CD?

No, but I've seen a double-sided (stamped) DVD, and I've read of a double-sided (stamped) DualDisc that has a DVD on one side and a (non-conforming) mostly-CD-compatible layer on the other.

Re:Which side is up? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066319)

There exists a manufacturing process for a CD/DVD disc: DualDisc [wikipedia.org] . Your details are correct, though, and even that method involves creating a slightly thicker disc (1.5mm).

Fingerprints (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065929)

Or rely on the fact that a sticker feels different from the plastic on the side with the data.

Do you know of any easy way to rely on that without getting fingerprints all over the data side?

Re:Fingerprints (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067213)

Or rely on the fact that a sticker feels different from the plastic on the side with the data.

Do you know of any easy way to rely on that without getting fingerprints all over the data side?

Sure! Licking it will not leave a fingerprint!

As others have said, CDs and DVDs already have a built-in feature for blind people and people changing discs in the dark. The side that goes towards the laser (usually "down") has a ridge near the hub. It's prominent enough that you can easily feel it through a paper sleeve (and if you have a jewel box, you should already have it the right side up, but you can still feel for it if in doubt).

Re:Fingerprints (1)

schroedingers_hat (2449186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067623)

Like many other things blind people do, just put it away the right way up and be careful with it.

Re:Which side is up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065203)

If it's an install CD you're talking about, the printed side has a different feel from the side that would be read by the laser. The only CDR/CDROM's I couldn't distinguish which side are the ones without any label of any sort.

Re:Which side is up? (4, Informative)

michaelwigle (822387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065359)

Next time you look at a CD check out the spindle hole. Around the edge on one side it is raised. It's hard to see but you can feel it. The raised ridge always goes down.

The edge of the writeable/readable area, you mean (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065817)

Your comment is a bit confusing, I consider the "edge of the spindle hole" to be the actual physical hole --- but the ridge you're describing is at the edge of the non-writable/readable area around the hole, in the middle of a flat section of the disc. The hole itself is totally flat on the side which goes down, and on the other side has a small step recess (or possibly a better word would be "bevel").

Re:The edge of the writeable/readable area, you me (2)

michaelwigle (822387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066405)

You're right, your description is clearer. Thanks for the clarification.

Re:The edge of the writeable/readable area, you me (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066467)

I think your drive is installed upside down.

Re:Which side is up? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065471)

CD? They are blind, not out of date luddites. Inserting the USB boot stick is quite easy for a Visually impaired person

Re:Which side is up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065753)

Dude, I am not physically impaired, nor do I consider myself an out-of-date luddite, but I use Ubuntu, Suse, LinuxMint, and Debian CDs way more than I use bootable USB sticks. CDs ain't dead yet, although I'd let you get away with saying that they're dying.

CDs still have some advantages (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065889)

A burned optical disc cannot be modified by malware --- which is, simultaneously, its strength and also weakness (since the OS burned on it will always boot unpatched).

I'm still waiting for the USB sticks with the true write-protect switches to become available again --- but I'm not holding my breath. Know of any solution for this need? It would be even better if there was some open interface which could lock some partitions while leaving others writeable!

Re:CDs still have some advantages (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065981)

A burned optical disc cannot be modified by malware [...] It would be even better if there was some open interface which could lock some partitions [on a USB mass storage device] while leaving others writeable!

What would keep malware from connecting to this open interface and infecting the flash drive's "locked" partition?

Re:CDs still have some advantages (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066275)

Linux allows you to mount partitions as "read only". Also, look up "immutable" (chattr) and the extended ACLs used in SELinux.

Re:CDs still have some advantages (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066409)

That won't help you if you plug your USB device into a compromised system. What's needed is a real hardware lockout, like the physical switches we had on floppy disks back in the day.

Re:CDs still have some advantages (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067377)

We have them on CF/SD/MS cards.
It's only USB keys that mostly seem to lack them.

But one of the main points in favour of CDs/DVDs is price. Even though USB keys have gone way down in price, we're still talking cents to dollars here.
Another point in favour for things like distros is that you don't have to burn each of them individually. You can stamp out thousands.

Then there's mailing. You need a box or bubble wrap bag for USB keys, while a cardboard envelope works for CDs and DVDs.

Re:CDs still have some advantages (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068093)

No you don't. That switch just sets a flag that the OS can choose to ignore.

Re:Which side is up? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066363)

Inserting the USB boot stick is quite easy for a Visually impaired person

Or rather, it's no more difficult for a visually impaired person. Even with two functioning eyeballs, it often takes three tries to fit the USB connector.

Re:Which side is up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068713)

Yep, they manage to get the thing seated on the third try just like everyone else.

Re:Which side is up? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066145)

I just wonder how a blind user knows whether the install CD is inserted the right way up in the first place.

Well...
1) When taking out of the case, it is usually the label side up
2) By feel
3) If the user does not hear the drive seeking or eventually the drum sound, it's worth trying flipping around
4) You can simply try both ways without it causing any damage
5) Ultimately, ask someone else

Re:Which side is up? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066223)

Texture. I'm not blind, but I've done this all the time without looking. The data side is much smoother.

Re:From the article... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065731)

That's great and all, but I've never gotten sound to work on any Linux installations. I'll never hear a drum sound, or any other sound!

visually impared irony (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40064953)

It has tons of accessibility features for the visually impaired if you know where to look.

I get this same feeling every time I lose my glasses. The bitter irony of having to look for your glasses...

Re:visually impared irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40064991)

Velma is that you?

Re:visually impared irony (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065119)

It has tons of accessibility features for the visually impaired if you know where to look.

Where to look might be an issue for visually impaired people...

Then there's Gnome 3, which won't even let you change font and widget sizes and styles.

Re:visually impared irony (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067589)

Then there's Gnome 3, which won't even let you change font and widget sizes and styles.

They really are dead set on copying OS X, are they...

Re:visually impared irony (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067751)

accessibility -> text size -> large.

Was that really so hard?!?

Re:visually impared irony (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065253)

It has tons of accessibility features for the visually impaired if you know where to look.

Yeah, that's Linux in a nutshell.

Does it matter? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40064955)

"The article was written by Robert Cole, a blind person with a computer science degree."

Could you please explain why does it matter whether he's blind or not?

Re:Does it matter? (4, Insightful)

schitso (2541028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065023)

...because the article is about accessibility tools for seeing-impaired users?

Re:Does it matter? (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065159)

And I'll add that this is important because, as a sighted developer who once worked on a website specifically intended for blind users, I know it's ridiculously easy to make really bad assumptions about what blind people want. That design with a list of options arranged to be read first is great for a front page, but gets really annoying after it's read on every page....

Sighted people suck.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065989)

> Sighted people suck.

Yup! Sighted people suck. Blind people suck. Sighted people suck blind people. Two blind people simultaneously suck ...

Rule 34, er, ... rules!

Re:Does it matter? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067547)

An interesting and related problem: A website aimed at the deaf took the time to provide video of their site translated into ASL. At first glance, this seems stupid - many deaf people can read perfectly well. But it actually turns out that people who were born deaf or became deaf in early childhood have significant literacy problems, especially if they learned ASL first, because reading English engages the auditory senses.

Asking a sighted person on how to design properly for the blind, or a hearing person on how to design properly for the deaf, makes about as much sense as asking a marketing guy about how to design a web server: They may have some ideas, but will have no clue which ones are good.

Re:Does it matter? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065053)

The fact that he is blind doesn't matter, really. The fact that he sucks a mean dick does, however.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065073)

Because it lends credibility to him writing an article about accessibility, which is mostly about the blind when it comes to computers.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

partofme (2643183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065193)

Well, I would hate to try using computer with no hands. I was almost there once. I got a medical condition that disables legs and hands and spent almost 4 months in hospital. The lucky thing is, it only affected my legs and my hands continued to work. That meant four full months of nerding in bed while nurses brought me food, drinks and took my shit (I had to literally shit in bed as I couldn't move).

Re:Does it matter? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067541)

I hope you did play WoW, just to piss them off.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065491)

Because it lends credibility to him writing an article about accessibility, which is mostly about the blind when it comes to computers.

Why? Better lobbying than other groups?

There are far more severely rheumatic people than blind people, yet little effort is put into giving options to reduce mouse movements (and especially moving between keyboard and mouse) or being able to reassign keys to reachable ones.

Then there are mental issues - another large group. Some effort is put in, but not enough. Some people with dementia may have to learn how to use the computer ever day. If the user can't learn to adjust to the computer, the computer has to learn to adjust to the user.

Then there are colour blind people - mostly men. Having an option to sacrifice colour correctness to get the colour contrast that works best for your type of colour blindness would be nice.

Or the deaf? What happened to subtitles?

Re:Does it matter? (1)

FatMacDaddy (878246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065633)

All of those are requirements for accessibility. You're right that being accessible is about more than just about blindness or low vision. This article, however, seems to be pretty specifically focused on the screen-reader issue of accessibility.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065127)

Because as a person with good site your views on accessibility features are quite different then someone who is blind. A webpage using graphic as text without a good alt tag could be the difference between a good ui and a bad one. Or even just the fact that someone when a form requires something to be filled in it may just be in a different color. Most UI enhancements are visual. I myself have good eye site, and operate my computer with the speakers on Mute, So my perception of a good UI is based on my site. Having known a few people who are blind, I understand that their perception of computing is much different, and you things that you take for granted are much different.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40066533)

I myself have good eye site

Dye in a fire.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065501)

What is more irrelevant is the CS degree.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068519)

It is proof positive that he has relevant experience. He's not just guessing what it's like to depend on accessibility tools.

Not only the blind (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065063)

There are a lot of people in the world who have sensitive eyes. A lot more than the blind. And still there is a lot of software that uses the black-text-on-white-background color scheme. Of all the possible choices, this is the one that causes the worst eyestrain. So if you are a software developer, take pity on hurting and watering eyes and allow us to use a darker color scheme. Windows Aero, I'm (not) looking at you!

Re:Not only the blind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065111)

screen brightness control fixes that.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065115)

All the major GUI toolkits allow you to theme your colors however you like. There are even tools for reconsiling themes across different toolkits. I can't remember the last time I came across an app that didn't source my GTK theme and just look right.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065289)

There are a few ghastly legacy applications that oozed out of the 'we'll just build our own damn widget set, because!' school, which obey absolutely no system-wide settings whatsoever, not theme, not font size, screenreaders can forget about it, and so forth; but those are thankfully rare... Even then, you can always just give the contrast, gamma, or color curves a good hard shove at the driver or monitor level.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068195)

Google? Slashdot?

Re:Not only the blind (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068847)

Those are websites, not apps.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065671)

And still there is a lot of software that uses the black-text-on-white-background color scheme. Of all the possible choices, this is the one that causes the worst eyestrain.

No, that distinction should go to blue-on-black and black-on-blue.

Re:Not only the blind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065819)

I love how you are complaining about this on a website that does this exact thing.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067315)

There are a lot of people in the world who have sensitive eyes. A lot more than the blind. And still there is a lot of software that uses the black-text-on-white-background color scheme. Of all the possible choices, this is the one that causes the worst eyestrain. So if you are a software developer, take pity on hurting and watering eyes and allow us to use a darker color scheme. Windows Aero, I'm (not) looking at you!

Also websites, as people spend a lot of time with those. Currently the situation is that when you set your web browser to force some kind of black theme, it breaks so much that it's not worth it. So a good (and quite simple) solution would be a trend among web developers to make sites offer a black color theme.

I have also been using the Compiz "Invert colors" effect with some success, but it's not the nicest way to do it. :)

Re:Not only the blind (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067475)

This is a matter of horrible website design, aided and abetted by all the major browser makers. Unfortunately it is indeed very common, and unfortunately the solution you suggest is not simple, and definitely not good. It's trying to patch over a huge gaping wound with a million little individual scabs, each of which would have to come from a different source and be implemented independently.

Instead of offering multiple 'themes' per page, the logical way to do this is simply to use proper HTML, which means you use semantic tagging and leave layout and rendering decisions to the end-user equipment without assuming what capabilities it will or will not have.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069037)

Actually, the main problem with web pages is the current fad of using div background images as ui elements. "Use my colors" in Firefox turns off all backgrounds, and while that is indeed what I want, the UIs break. The correct solution, of course, is to use the img tag for images that are part of page content. Displaying backgrounds is supposed to be optional and any web designer relying on them for displaying content is doing it wrong.

Re:Not only the blind (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067837)

Check out "redshift". I find it works wonders when working in low light, so it may have a positive effect for light-sensitive users as well.

double (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065099)

Putting together a similar set of tools on Windows would cost at least US$600, about double what a retail copy of Windows itself costs

If you want the impaired version of windows, otherwise.....

Orca good? (4, Informative)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065113)

I used to work with a blind programmer. He is a Linux geek. Every year or two he tries the screen readers in Linux, and says they all suck compared to Jaws in Windows (including Orca).

So he does all his email, web browsing, etc in Windows, as well as as much programming as he can get away with. For him Linux has been relegated to a toy he plays with once in a while.

Not a Linux geek (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065287)

I'm not contesting the fact that your friend's blind. He might even be a good blind computer user. But it seems he doesn't meet the requirements of a "Linux geek". A Linux geek is one who doesn't just play with or treat Linux as a toy. How can one be a "something" geek, if you don't use that something regularly. Call him a Windows geek or a computer (in general) geek, but not a Linux geek.

Re:Orca good? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065325)

"used to work"....so your 2nd hand opinion is HOW old? maybe he tried it again recently and found it ok

Re:Orca good? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065331)

For him Linux has been relegated to a toy he plays with once in a while.

Actually, I think that runs counter to the notion of calling someone a "Linux geek."

Re:Orca good? (1)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065605)

My thoughts exactly. When I notice things like this, I tend to take every other assertion by the author with a grain of salt.

Re:Orca good? (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065517)

Depends.

While I have no experience with Orca, it seems to me most people with sight disabilities should use Linux on the command-line.

I know a lot of people who have that kind of disabilities long for the good old days of DOS 80x25 text screens, and there are tons of programs for Linux that can be really useful even with that kind of screen, starting with alpine, mutt, lynx, links, slrn, vim, emacs, snownews, screen and so on and so forth. Having a GUI is, frankly, not really useful for that kind of user. On the other hand, a simple text screen can be "read" with either a Braille terminal or a speech synthesis software.

After installing and configuring JAWS on Windows a couple of times for a blind friend, I can testify that it is the most expensive PoS I have ever seen...

Re:Orca good? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065613)

It's extra hardware(and not inexpensive, from what I've read); but I would think that the classic 'terminal window on ttyS0' would be an nearideal match for an 80-column refreshable braille display...

I've no doubt that Windows has superior 'kludging some degree of blind usability on top of a GUI' software offerings, because there is some serious cash in the 'corporations that don't like ADA suits' market; but I would(perhaps naively) expect that the unix-style environment(not exclusive to Linux, of course, BSD would do just as well) that had everybody on 80-column serial terminals back before graphics were cheap would be much easier to adapt more directly... A contemporary Window-manager-with-all-bells-and-whistles Linux desktop, not so much, though.

Re:Orca good? (4, Insightful)

FatMacDaddy (878246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065743)

I hate to say it, but that's the general consensus. And is it surprising that an expensive product put out by a software company is favored over an open-source alternative? The biggest problem with JAWS, from my perspective, is the whopping $1,000 price of admission for a target user group that has high unemployment problems already.
 
I have to give a shoutout to the NVDA project (http://www.nvda-project.org/), and would encourage your friend to give them a shot if he would like an open-source alternative to JAWS on Windows.

Threat of 508/ADA suit (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065163)

From the article:

That's tough if you are a student or if you need your computer for work related activities. Believe me, I've been there.

I think that's part of the problem: employers are willing to pay inflated prices for assistive tech in order to deter disability discrimination lawsuits.

Linux is awful... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065165)

Anybody who isn't on welfare switched to OS X years ago.

Re:Linux is awful... (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065419)

Anybody who isn't on welfare switched to OS X years ago.

Yep, even my blind aunt agrees. She thinks it's sad Apple ran out of cat names, and that Swahili was an odd choice, but "Ubuntu" is her new favourite OS.

recent HPR episode (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065443)

A couple months ago there was a great hacker public radio episode where a linux dev told stories about working on accessibility and then cried for helpful volunteers because everyone in the corporate financed linux accessibility community is/was getting downsized.
It was a recording of a speech at a con.
It was an excellent talk, about average sound quality for HPR (in other words not great, but tolerable) and probably in the top 1% of HPR episodes WRT content.
I can't successfully google for it, if someone else can find it, I'd recommend listening to it.

Desktop Linux is for geeks (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#40065577)

I'm sure this review proves the suitability of Linux for all other visually impaired users with computing science degrees.

Meanwhile, for all other visually impaired users...

One 'accessibility' options most Linux users need (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065643)

Since all Linux users are basement-dwelling faggots, Linux should provide a way to automatically order AIDS meds to their suites without having to set foot out in the sun or potentially talk to the girl at the pharmacy.

SuSE 6.2. Braille Boot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40065919)

Enough said.

Six hundred bucks is peanuts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40066057)

"Putting together a similar set of tools on Windows would cost at least US$600, about double what a retail copy of Windows itself costs"

Why the hell is it compared to the cost of the OS? This is like saying, "Broken leg? How much would you pay for crutches? $50, $100? That's twice what you paid for *pants*. Here's this FREE solution of a stick and some duct tape!"

It's great that it's becoming at least partially commoditized, but, really, for something that you will actually use every day that could save you hours of frustration, $600 is peanuts.

How about tetraplegic? (1)

s52d (1049172) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068671)

It happened to my friend. No hands, no legs.

First we fixed phone: after some research with Android (not really Linux) we ended up
with 5 year old bluetooth car installation: the only one where you can make calls without
any keys, just sound.

Computer is next: some tests were made using joystick (manipulated by head movement)
installed on wheelchair. Not really fun.
There are some expensive monitors with build in infrared cameras tracking eye movement.

Any experience on Linux desktop? Any advice what works?

Thanks,

s52d

$300? (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068903)

A retail copy of Windows costs $300? I guess you're including the price of the netbook?

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