There may be several people on this list who are blind, meaning no usable vision to see a screen. I definitely fit that description so I will gladly try to answer questions which breaks my usual practice here of asking beginner-level questions even though I have been using FreeBSD for almost ten years.
The easiest and most economical interface for computer users who are blind is spoken speach. I am not talking about speech recognition where you speak to the computer and it does things, but speech synthesis where the computer runs an application to read what is on the screen back to the person using the system. One can learn to type and touch-typing was tought in schools for the blind for scores of years before computers ever even came on the scene. We pounded on typewriters and our poor suffering typing teachers were the feedback mechanisms that told us how we were doing. So, a person who is blind needs to know how to type. Almost every operating system has a screen reading program or several that one can install that reads the screen back to you. There is a good screen reader for the Macintosh which is included on every single Mac that runs OSX10.X. I like it and the Mac's do run a customized version of BSD unix. The screen reader for the Mac is called voiceover and you can activate it by Command-F5 and then Command-F5 again to turn it off. The only drawback to voiceover is that for those of us who do a lot of tinkering and compiling of source code on unix systems, the screen reader makes listening to the stream of consciousness almost useless because it resets itself each time new output is detected. There is also a lot of really neat things going on in Linux. We have Orca which is the GUI environment and some very good software speech synthesizers for both the GUI and the command line worlds. They tend to handle bursty output from compilers and log tailings better than voiceover but you find that both Mac and Linux screen readers shine in some things and don't do so well in others so there is no clear winner. Finally, there is the Windows world. Microsoft may be actually trying to improve their narrator application to where it is a serious screen reader, but up to now, there is one free screen reader that some people like to use plus several commercial applications that cost an arm and a leg and are always one upgrade away from being snuffed out and causing their owners much grief. None of these screen readers are perfect, but most computer users who are blind end up being reasonably happy with one of them. I personally like Linux and the Mac because there is no additional charge to install the screen readers and they generally won't let you down. There are also Braille displays which some people use but they are extremely costly. I mentioned the speech recognition systems. Many of those actually present problems for those who are blind because you need to train them on your speech and the feedback is graphical so a good old keyboard is still the best input device. So as not to get totally off topic, I haven't heard of any of the Linux screen readers being ported to FreeBSD. That could be a problem for some people and not an issue at all for others. Right now, I am typing on a Linux computer running a software speech engine and I am editing this message on a FreeBSD9.0 system via ssh and using vi on the actual message file. It works great. If that Raspberry Pie Linux system turns out to be able to support one of the Linux screen readers, we're talking about a talking terminal for less than 100 US Dollars. We'll just have to see what happens. Martin McCormick WB5AGZ Stillwater, OK Systems Engineer OSU Information Technology Department Telecommunications Services Group _______________________________________________ email@example.com mailing list http://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions To unsubscribe, send any mail to "freebsd-questions-unsubscr...@freebsd.org"