Re: Preparing a Linux accessibility seminar
- From: Janina Sajka <janina rednote net>
- To: Enrico Zini <zinie cs unibo it>
- Cc: gnome-accessibility-list gnome org
- Subject: Re: Preparing a Linux accessibility seminar
- Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 11:39:50 -0500
I will endeavor to give my view on some specifics you raise. Let me say first that I also support the advice you got from Dave Boulter to also include an overview for computer users who live with disabilities other than blindness. I think that's an important perspective to maintain in an overview.
Essentially, I think the answer is that the Linux (and other f/oss environments) provide a mixed level of accessibility. Some things are more accessible on Linux, imho, than in any other environment. Others are completely inaccessible, or nearly so, at this time.
I would suggest that the two HOWTO documents relating to accessibility available from the Linux Documentation Project are still worthy starting points. You might also want to look at http://www.trace.wisc.edu/lars/.
The best information I have, however, is for users who are blind because it is my experience and the one that I've paid most attention to until recently. Let me take your questions one at a time:
tables, forms, dynamic pages should not be causes of worry
- Read books and other printed material (invoices, bills) using
scanner, OCR and Braille/speech
Scanning/OCR is better supported under Windows today, however it is possible to scan with scanimage and gocr, and the OCR Shop application (see http://www.vividata.com) can do a decent job.
- Blind people are getting interested in Linux as a way to get a job
doing system administration, so they need agile access to a terminal
No, they need to use the console using either brltty and/or Speakup. Tpo my mind these two beat out anything one can do under Windows hands-down. No contest.
- Reading e-mail and mailing lists
Easy, and powerful using any of several applications notably Pine, Mutt, slrn, or the several news/mail readers available under emacs. Also well, very well supported on the console--no need to think gui because the console is so powerful.
- Using a word-processor
Why, what a Windows point of view? Why a "word processor?" Use emacs or vim. Format with any nyumber of formatting tools when printing is needed (latec, notablhy). Please note that accessing text from MS Word and many PDF documents is not really an issue because tools to do this exist. Besides, the Xpdf that comes from Debian properly ignores that "don't export text" security flag in PDF.
- Having tools useful with everyday life: appointments, addressbooks,
phone directories, personal finance
Doable, but not so well organized as it might be. I say "doable," because one can do this well under emacs, but the learning curve is a tad steep. One can also do it with simple ASII files but that requires organization and self-discipline.
- Using arbitrary custom applications at the workplace (this is
probably not common, yet, but it's something I'd personally like to
keep an eye on. Status of bridges towards QT, KDE, Mozilla, Java,
OpenOffice.org and other toolkits get interesting here).
Well, it's hard to say what "custom applications" are? I suspect this is a case by case basis and OpenOffice won't provide a magic bullet either once it's really usable.
Enrico Zini writes:
> I've been asked to give a Linux accessibility seminar at the local
> university, and I'm now trying to gather up-to-date informations about
> the state of the art. I'm here to ask your help in correcting and
> integrating my understandment with your knowledge about the directions
> of your work.
> So far I've looked at http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gap/, but
> latest news are jul, 29 2003. I also tried to use Gnopernicus 0.7.1
> from Debian Unstable.
> One part of the seminar is intended to be goal oriented: given specific
> user goals, I try to tell what's the status now and what are the
> possibilities for the future.
> Goals I have identified, also based on questions commonly asked at
> accessibility workshops and by visually impaired people, are:
> tables, forms, dynamic pages should not be causes of worry
> - Read books and other printed material (invoices, bills) using
> scanner, OCR and Braille/speech
> - Blind people are getting interested in Linux as a way to get a job
> doing system administration, so they need agile access to a terminal
> - Reading e-mail and mailing lists
> - Using a word-processor
> - Having tools useful with everyday life: appointments, addressbooks,
> phone directories, personal finance
> - Using arbitrary custom applications at the workplace (this is
> probably not common, yet, but it's something I'd personally like to
> keep an eye on. Status of bridges towards QT, KDE, Mozilla, Java,
> OpenOffice.org and other toolkits get interesting here).
> As far as I know, the only stably supported task among these is doing
> sysadmin work using a Linux console and BrlTTY. Is there a way to have
> terminals spoken and brailled under XFree, too?
> I couldn't get GTK or Gnome applications to speak (more feedback in the
> next mail), but maybe it's me doing something wrong. What is the
> current status in this respect? Are there applications that are already
> usable? Which ones?
> As to OCR software, I looked around something more than a year ago and I
> haven't seen anything usable for Linux. Has anything changed? Is there
> some good quality OCR software running on Linux, even if not yet
> interfaced to ATK?
> I know Gnome has ATK stuff build-in, and it's very cool!
> I know Java has a working accessibility infrastructure inside: how's the
> status of using Gnopernicus to access Java applications?
> How is the situation wrt QT/KDE, Mozilla and OpenOffice.org? Do they
> have working accessibility support inside? Are bridges to their
> accessibility technologies being worked on?
> This is what I'm trying to gather so far. Slides and notes of my
> seminar will be published on the web, but in Italian. However, if I can
> gather enough informations to make something interesting, I'll be happy
> to prepare a short current-state-of-the-project doucument in English for
> GPG key: 1024D/797EBFAB 2000-12-05 Enrico Zini <enrico debian org>
Janina Sajka, Director
Technology Research and Development
Governmental Relations Group
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Email: janina afb net Phone: (202) 408-8175
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