[orca-list] Roadmap for Lang Switching , KBD Layouts and KDe?

I'm new on this list, though have been lurking for a while. I'd like to know in broad terms the current situation and roadmap regarding multi-language support, laptop layouts and KDE.

That is there are three screen reader features I'd like to have pretty much covered before considering seriously switching to Linux as a desktop power user and musician. I'm not sure about the distro but Ubuntu seem to take their accessibility seriously and stay on the leading or sometimes bleeding edge.

So for these three points, What's the current situation and when might I expect a release which has the support? I'm quite willing to wait even a year or two, this is just a quick ping:

1. Multi-language support. I read FInnish e-mail and Web-sites on a daily basis so I would like a hotkey for switching the screen text between FInnish and US English using the speech synth eSpeak or a combo of eSpeak and Festival. I don't mind the language switching to be manual as long as it can be performed quickly. Also I use all computer software in English anyway, so I wouldn't mind the prompts like check box or selected to be in English no matter what the languagee for the screen text happens to be. The ability to select a set of favorite languages would implement this feature nicely. My current reader has no such concept and where US English and FInnish used to be neighbors, now there are Chinese, Welsh and Lithuanian between the two, <grinn>.

2. Support for alternative hotkey layouts such as the laptop layout using the FInnish keybord would be almost a must. Ideally when I press a key such as ö, which is the key next to l, it should show up as ö in the UI not as the character it happens to be in the English keyboard layout. I don't know about Orca, but this used to be a long-standing issue in my Windows screen reader Supernova. The other point is that I would really need the ability to use function keys or something that requires neither the numpad nor the insert key on a laptop keybord. While it is true the numpad can be emulated, that's far from ideal on most laptops. KEy layouts that are customizable and switchible via the GUI would rock.

3. I'd very much like to use KDE in stead of Gnome. Partly because I very much prefer KDe's extensive GUI-based customizability and partly because most of my sighted Linux friends use KDE and the apps for it exclusively. ANother reason is that I find even Gnome to be annoyingly semi Windows like, though a bit smarter, in far too many places, and was kind of hoping KDE would be more independent and start usability from the ground up.

One great benefit in KDE is that I can easily, graphically customize all the colors to suit my sight, as I use a bit of magnification, too. NOne of the high contrast schemes in desktop environments like Windows, KDE, Gnome and OS X are good enough for me, out of the box. The other is that there seem to be all kindse of cool plugs for the KDe file manager, woops err, Konqueror-.

I do know KDE support will have to wait for the QT4 library to become mainstream in KDE4, and even after that it will probably take time before Orca is ported to run in QT4 and will support KDE as well as it does Gnome now. NOt to mention all the legacy apps. So I guess we might be talking years as far as this last requirement goes. Still I'm certain I'm not the only sight-impaired person who'd like to use KDE rather than Gnome, given a choice that is not bound by accessibility constraints.

My main reason for having stayed with WIndows so long is accessibility and investments to certain commercial music software. but I saw Orca in the Edgy live CD and was pretty impressed. This is the first time Linux accessibility is gradually getting to a point that I can seriously consider Linux as an option as a legally blind GUI fan. the same about OS x, really.

Any help appreciated and sorry for such a redundant post. I'm sure these are questions asked often so if some of this is coverd in a FAQ, feel free to point me to that in stead.

With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä (vtatila mail student oulu fi)
Accessibility, game music, synthesizers and programming:

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