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LinuxWorld: Hearing the call - Linux solutions to help the visually impaired use computers

Jul 13, 2000, 07:18 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Barr)

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"Matthew Campbell is a 19-year-old computer science major who has just completed his freshman year at Wichita State University. He has been using Linux for about four years and, while not attending classes, holds down a part-time job writing Java and C code. Just before Independence Day, Campbell gave a presentation to the ACLUG on Linux for the blind and visually impaired, which included the use of speech synthesizers."

"As is the usually the case with Linux software, there are a number of tools with which the visually impaired use Linux. Campbell's eyesight is good enough to read an 80 by 25 character display if he gets very close to the screen. Campbell told me that he can also work with a GUI, with a resolution of up to 800 by 600 pixels on a 17-inch monitor and 1,024 by 768 pixels on a 20-inch monitor; he has a 17-inch monitor at home and a 20-inch at work. But for many others, reading from the screen is not an option, no matter how close to it they get."

"People like Campbell, who can see but not see very well, can use screen enlargement software to magnify text on a portion of the screen. But as Campbell explained in his presentation, with Linux you can accomplish something very similar by adjusting the settings for virtual display size in the XF86Config file. For example, setting the physical screen size to 640 by 480 pixels while defining a virtual screen as being 1,024 by 678 pixels allows you to scroll around over a magnified screen."

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