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c't: To Feel and Hear the Computer

May 26, 1999, 20:50 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Frank Fremerey)

Thanks to brosz for this link.

"The instruction metaphors used by modern graphical user interfaces like MacOS or Windows do not have any meaning for blind people - Icons can neither be expressed in Braille nor read out. Graphical interfaces are accessible to a certain degree with special software like JAWS for Windows but instead of being helpful they usually resemble more of an obstacle."

"Accordingly blind computer users still favor the text oriented DOS. But is does not offer any multitasking and only rudimentary network functionality. Linux is a real alternative here: it has much greater capabilities and is more comfortable while it can still be fully operated from the command line."

"Currently there are still text oriented console applications written for Linux, while there is no development under DOS, hardly any maintenance for existing software and new hardware is almost not supported anymore. On top of that Linux is significantly more stable and secure than DOS - in an appropriate configuration wrong inputs under Linux do not trigger a crash or cause the destruction of the system."

"To improve Linux support for the blind Hans Zöbelein started to connect and coordinate the already existing worldwide initiatives in summer 1996. The hobby programmer from Munich founded a mailing list that today has more than 250 members. The name of the project: Blinux [2], combined from the words 'blind' and 'Linux'. So far the focus of the work has been on collecting and further developing software that allows blind people access to the Linux computer..."

Complete story.