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Re: the danger of specialized Debian

On Sat, Feb 12, 2000 at 07:26:34PM -0500, Jacob Kuntz wrote:
> i'm glad to see that people are interested in making linux availale to first
> time computer users, k-12 schools, and people with disabilities. the
> internet community as a whole needs more of this kind of initiative. i am
> however concerened that if not properly organized, these projects may dilute
> Debian's energy.

fwiw, my work for making Debian more accessable to the blind (and people
with other disabilities) will be in the form of a more generic way to feed
input into and output from programs..  This has much more far-reaching
effects than disability access.  I won't go into much detail here because
I could spend hours on the details and I don't have the time.  If I ever
had time to do most of this stuff, the results would be cool.  =>

Probably my first goal is to try and get the necessary software into
Debian.  Some of it (such as emacspeak) is already there.  To use some of
the software in question though, I need some specialized hardware or a
reasonable software emulation of it.  (I don't have a speech synthesizer
for example..  The closest software that exists is festival which would be
very hard to use as a primary output method.  Something more like a
DECtalk is needed--the hardware version is something like $1200US!  The
software version is not generally available yet.  (Compaq has a deal with
Creative Labs to bundle a software version ofthis with certain
products---if you've heard synthetic speech in mainstream products and
services and it was not just words that were recorded, it was a DECtalk..
They are very easy to understand.) 

But getting software packaged isn't the final step, it's only the first
step.  We'd need a set of speech-enabled boot floppies.  It'd be good to
have some nicely extendable and generic way to feed input into programs (I
have talked with Alan Cox about a kernel-level solution to this before,
mostly it's just been that I haven't had time to work on it..)

Something that I am shooting for eventually is "accessable software", that
is software which is designed from the ground up to be accessable to
everyone.  Think along the lines of debconf front-ends..  If you have and
can use a GUI, you might access the programs through a GUI interface.  A
console would access them through a console interface.  A blind person
might want a speech/keyboard interface.  As I am sure you can imagine,
this is a lot harder to do than it sounds but it can be done.

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>                 Debian Linux developer
http://tank.debian.net   GnuPG key  pub 1024D/DCF9DAB3  sub 2048g/3F9C2A43
http://www.debian.org    20F6 2261 F185 7A3E 79FC 44F9 8FF7 D7A3 DCF9 DAB3

<Teller> where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?

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