Re: Ubuntu Accessability

Hi Ian,

If you are going with Ubuntu, best to go with the latest version of Ubuntu Edgy (version 6.10 or later). For your needs, you should have: - a set of high-contrast and large-print (and high-contrast-large-print) themes - the ability to set the font & font size for your desktop, terminal, applications, and window borders
- the simple gnome-mag magnification engine
- the Orca screen reader which will drive gnome-mag

Some combination of these (e.g. lower level magnification + a large print theme; an inverse video theme with magnification; magnification with its own inversion turned on) will probably be best for you. Many of the features you may have come to enjoy in ZoomText aren't available yet on UNIX (things like xFonts, AppReader, DocReader, the range of color settings, and some of the mouse & text caret highlighting). gnome-mag is more of a "1.0 product" (er, 1.21) as compared to ZoomText version 9.0.

gnome-mag can do up to 16x magnification in fractional increments; 4x isn't a problem. gnome-mag can do color inversion; or you can use an inverse-video theme (which won't work with all apps, and won't invert content like images in web pages). Ubuntu comes with Festival, configured for use with Orca. You can also use other text-to-speech engines, like the commercial Fonix DECtalk for $50 if you prefer. It also comes with, which should work with Orca without the need for the Java Access Bridge (the requirement was dropped fairly recently). The Adobe Reader for Linux (x86) should work on Ubuntu, and supports gnome-speech for self-voicing of PDF content (see for downloading it). Unfortunately when I last tried it with Orca, it didn't work well; we're waiting on fixed from Adobe for that. Also note that can export Tagged PDF.

LSR is another, open source scripting screen reader for UNIX written in Python (rather like Orca). It is another assistive technology option for users, and some may prefer it to Orca. Choice is a wonderful thing! I understand that it also works with gnome-mag and with gnome-speech; so everything I said about that above when used with Orca ought to apply to LSR. I'm somewhat less familiar with LSR as a technology, so I'll have to leave you in the capable hands of folks like Peter Parente and George Kraft of IBM to describe the finer points of LSR.


Peter Korn
Accessibility Architect,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Hi All

I am having some guys from the local LUG come around to mine tomorrow to
load up Ubuntu  6 - not sure which sub version - onto my PC.

Can you please let me know what accessability is in-built into this distro?
I want to achieve as near as possible an equivilant to Windows ZoomText in

>From previous postings I am aware that Orca is available - as I do not have
an external synth, I presume I will need Festival as well - is this part of
the distro?

I am visually impaired with about 40% sight left so I need accessability
interfaces to allow me to have:

- full screen magnification 4x is my normal level, in both GUI and non-GUI
interfaces - is this manageable by Gnome magtnification and is this on the
- screen colour inversion to allow white writing on a black background -
Gnome Mag?
- screen reader - this is the Orca + Festival interface?
- document reader - Open Office documents and PDF.  Do I still need, if
memory serves, the Java bridge for OO - again is this on the distro?

There have been postings about LSR and Speech Despatcher - LSR I presume
complements Orca, but where does Speech Despatcher fit in; is it a Festival
replacement or an additional Service to allow other apps to interface with
the above accessability options?

Cheers in anticipation


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