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Re: Projects in accessibility for debian.

"Mirabella, Mathew J" <Mathew.Mirabella@team.telstra.com> writes:

> What work is underway to make a comprehensive accessible installation CD
> of the latest debian and to provide quick and easy ways of installing
> access software on the system?

First of all, I think we have to destinguish two fundamentally different
things: Providing accessibility related software as packages which can readily
be installed onto a working system, AND
Providing an accessible installation system.

These two are very much related indeed, but they ae still two different
things.  Much of the first step is already done as part of the
so-called Debian accessibility project, but we are certainly missing
vital things of part two.

> I was reading some notes on the web that mention a number of debian
> based systems customised for different purposes.  These include distros
> for med, children, scientists, education, desktop etc.  And
> accessibility was also on the list.
> http://people.debian.org/~tille/debian-med/talks/paper-cdd/debian-cdd.html/.
> In some ways, I think some of these are better off made as tasks
> in the debian installer and/or aptitude, but they are good offshoots in
> their own right.
> However, there does not seem to be a system available for accessibility
> (the link from the above goes to the debian accessibility page where
> this mailing list is mentioned).  I did see Oralux (a version of knoppix
> that is customised for audio and for accessibility).
> http://www.oralux.org/
> However, this is a LIVE CD, not really a debian installation CD.

To clarify a point, I am not convinced about the approach of a separate
distribution tuned towards accessibility.  My view of the Debian
Accessibility Project is more to make Debian as such accessible
by default.  That is probably why you didn't find "a system available for
accessibility".  Debian itself is supposed to bethat system.  You can already
install and use many accessibility related packages like gnopernicus, brltty,
emacspeak, gok and others, just to name a few.  And you also install
a fresh system using floppy disks at least.  True, there is no
official support for CD based accessible installs yet, but that
is only because nobody has done the required work yet.  Things
are progressing, sometimes slower sometimes faster, but still, I think
we've come a long way since say, 2001.

> Is there any work under way to produce a full distribution of debian,
> with installation as well as package management, with speech all the
> way?  I know there are access floppies, but there are no installation
> CDs with speakup etc. that install a new kernel 2.6 etc.

I dont know.  I've promised to do the required work for CDs far too often
already, and broken that promise again.  It seems to be something I can't
really devote enough time to at once to really get it straight.
The other issue is that I really dont do fresh installs that often, so
the itch isn't enough to be scratched that vigorously yet.  The installs
I needed to do, I did with floppies.  I am kind of sorry that I can't
fullfil every wish, but that is how it goes for now.

> I have built a 2.6.9 kernel from make-kpkg with speakup (from cvs) that
> I have installed.  This was based on the debian kernel sources 2.6.9 and
> the knoppix CD kernel config so as to support most hardware etc, then
> patched with speakup.  This seems to work ok, but I think it would be
> valuable for debian to have a 2.6.9 kernel with speakup on an access cd
> (netinst or cd number 1 of the full set).

AFAIK, d-i has stabilized on 2.6.8.  It might be a little too late for the
2.6 speakup chain to enter sarge.  Frankly, I didnt think sarge would
release so late that 2.6 would be stable enough to warrant a speakup
version in the archive.  So now 2.6 is cool, but many things
are frozen already, and we are sort of in a half-trance state.

> Basically all that is needed then is a category in the aptitude package
> called "accessibility" which contains all of the access software
> packages in debian, such as emacspeak, emacs apps that are enabled in
> emacspeak (such as w3m, vm, etc).  speakup patches, yasr, gnopernicus,
> other gnome apps, brltty etc. etc.  This makes sense because unless you
> are in need of access software, you would not really go looking for it,
> but when you go looking for it, there are no places where you can find a
> comprahensive list ready to install.  The aptitude system now provides
> that ease of installation, so categorisation of this kind would make
> sense.

Agreed.  We need some kind of working category system in aptitude and tag
packages accordingly.  Most packages are already correctly
tagged in the debtags system, but I am not sure now if aptitude
already uses that by default.
We aren't going to use sections, I think thats out of the question.  So we
need debtags in aptitude.  tasksel isn't going to help either, because
installing all accessibility related package at once doesnt make
any sense.

> This could even be by way of a "task" in the installer.
> With this in mind, an installation CD, based on CD 1 and the netinst CD
> of debian sarge, could be developed which contains all of the packages
> and an easy way to install them (perhaps in the installation task
> selection?).  A Live cd (like oralux) is a great idea too.

Great, are you volunteering to do all this? :-)

> One further issue is the use of software speech with speakup, requiring
> modules and audio to be enabled.  Oralux is working on this for the LIVE
> CD, but I know it is possible to build a speakup kernel with speakup as
> modules and to have the speech dispatcher and flite etc. installed, and
> for speakup to start using it asap and speaking during bootup.  Thus, it
> would be possible to have the installation CD act like this as well, if
> the user chooses software speech from the boot prompt.

Of course, but that is a very ambitious goal because software speech
requires a working soundcard.  Soundcard drivers are currently not
included in the installer, for obvious reasons.  Additionally,
software speech is really quite big, which makes the installer grow
really large.  But yes, we should aim for that.  However, I think this
is all sarge+1 material.
> What work is being done here and how far have people got.

To summarize my corner, I maintain the speakup patch package, and a i386
precompiled 2.4 speakup kernel + module udebs for the installer as
well as brltty and created the access floppies which use brltty and
> Does anyone want to look at my 2.6.9 kernel with speakup?  The config
> from knoppix seems to want to build in the PCI and SCSI and IDE HD
> access stuff rather than have this as modules, and so there is no initrd
> created.  Any opinions on this kind of config?

Frankly, you can hack all sorts of things, but what I personally aim for is
to make this stuff integratable into standard Debian.  That means I
work inside the framework given.  A Debian installer kernel is built
the following way:  You first build a normal kernel package and get it into
the archive.  From that, you build the module udebs using kernel-wedge. 
This way, the installer kernel, and the kernel you install onto your fresh
system are the same.  Look at the kernel-image-speakup-i386 package and
at kernel-wedge for details on how to implement such a package properly.

# apt-get source kernel-image-speakup-i386 kernel-wedge


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