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Re: Looking for experienced recommendations

Elizabeth Barclay <ebarclay@circainformation.com> writes:

> I'm a sighted person and I'm working on setting up a system for my 14
> year old neice, Thalia, who is blind.  She uses both qwerty key and
> braille keyboards and a braille display (BrailleLite).
> I'm looking for comments from people with experience using accessible
> software and hardware.  Thalia has received governement funding for a
> Braille Note BT18, JAWS, a Blazer Embosser, a bed scanner and Kurzweil
> OCR software.
> Does anyone have experience using the hardware with Linux?  If you do,
> can you please comment on ease of use?  (I'm not so concerened about
> ease of admin or setup.)

I am not sure what you are exactly refering to here.  Do you mean
ease of use of the assistive technology hardware drivers (the
screen reader), or ease of use of Linux applications with such
screen readers in general?

One thing I can answer for sure is that you'll need to install BRLTTY
and configure it to use the BrailleNote (bn) driver so that you
can get the BrailleNote to work.  However, you seem to mention a Braille Lite
too, for that, you'd need to configure BRLTTY to use the bl driver.

> Has anyone used both JAWS and EMACS and do you have a preference?
Yes, I've used both, but you can not really compare them.  They don't
play in the same league.  JAWS is a screen reader, design to allow
a blind person to access applications running on the underlying
Windows operating system.  EMACS is an application which can be executed
on many platforms even including Windows.  It is true that there
are extensions for Emacs to make it possible to use it as a screen
reader for speech output, but that doesn't really change the fact that JAWS
and Emacs can't really be compared to each other.

> Same question for the OCR software.

I'm afraid I can not really comment on this issue.  I do not use
OCR in my daily life.  I know however that there are several OCR
solutions for Linux available and in development.  I'm afraid the free
software solutions mightn't quite be there yet to be used by a blind person
independently, but there are commercial alternatives you might want to check

> Finally, can I get a recommendation on email packages and word
> processing software.

There are tons of ways to do those things under Linux.  And the choice
of programs to use is very much a personal preference. I personally
do as much as possible inside Emacs since that provides a consistent
editing environment with a consistent set of keybindings.  However I
am afraid Emacs might come with a quite steep learning curve at first,
although it pays that back thausand times afterwards.

I'd still recommend you simply take a look at what is possible
(limiting your search to applications which come with a console interface is
a good start) and see for yourself.

Hope this helps,

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