References in this section are taken directly from the Linux
Software map which can be found in all standard places for Linux
documentation and which lists almost all of the software available for
Emacspeak is the software side of a speech interface to Linux. Any
other character based program, such as a WWW browser, or
or another editor can potentially be used within
main difference between it and normal screen reader software for such
operating systems as DOS is that it also has a load more extra
features. It is based in the emacs text editor.
A text editor is generally just a program which allows you to change
the contents of a file, for example, adding new information to a
letter. Emacs is in fact far beyond a normal text editor, and so this
package is much more useful than you might imagine. You can run any
other program from within emacs, getting any output it generates to
appear in the emacs terminal emulator.
The reason that emacs is a better environment for Emacspeak is that it
can can understand the layout of the screen and can intelligently
interpret the meaning of, for example, a calendar, which would just be
a messy array of numbers otherwise. The originator of the package
manages to look after his own Linux machine entirely, doing all of the
administration from within emacs. He also uses it to control a wide
variety of other machines and software directly from that machine.
Emacspeak is included within the Debian Linux distribution and is
included as contributed software within the Slakware distribution.
This means that it is available on many of the CDROM distributions of
Linux. By the time this is published, the version included should be
5 or better, but at present I only have version 4 available for
Title: emacspeak - a speech output interface to Emacs
Description: Emacspeak is the first full-fledged speech output
system that will allow someone who cannot see to work
directly on a UNIX system. (Until now, the only option
available to visually impaired users has been to use a
talking PC as a terminal.) Emacspeak is built on top
of Emacs. Once you start emacs with emacspeak loaded,
you get spoken feedback for everything you do. Your
mileage will vary depending on how well you can use
Emacs. There is nothing that you cannot do inside
Keywords: handicap access visually impaired blind speech emacs
Author: email@example.com (T. V. Raman)
Maintained-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Van Zandt)
Primary-site: sunsite.unc.edu apps/sound/speech
Original-site: http://www.cs.cornell.edu /pub/raman/emacspeak
Platforms: DECtalk Express or DEC Multivoice speech synthesizer,
GNU FSF Emacs 19 (version 19.23 or later) and TCLX
7.3B (Extended TCL).
This is a program for running a serial port Braille terminal. It
has been widely tested and used, and supports a number of different
kinds of hardware (see the Linux Software Map entry below).
The maintainer is, Nikhil Nair
The other people working on it are Nicolas Pitre
<email@example.com> and Stephane
<firstname.lastname@example.org>. Send any comments to all of
The authors seem keen to get support in for more different devices, so
if you have one you should consider contacting them. They will almost
certainly need programming information for the device, so if you can
contact your manufacturer and get that they are much more likely to be
able to help you.
A brief feature list (from their README file) to get you interested
- Full implementation of the standard screen review facilities.
- A wide range of additional optional features, including blinking
cursor and capital letters, screen freezing for leisurely review,
attribute display to locate highlighted text, hypertext links, etc.
- `Intelligent' cursor routing. This allows easy movement of
the cursor in text editors etc. without moving the hands from the
- A cut & paste function. This is particularly useful for copying long
filenames, complicated commands etc.
- An on-line help facility.
- Support for multiple Braille codes.
- Modular design allows relatively easy addition of drivers for other
Braille displays, or even (hopefully) porting to other Unix-like
Title: BRLTTY - Access software for Unix for a blind person
using a soft Braille terminal
Version: 1.0.2, 17SEP96
Description: BRLTTY is a daemon which provides access to a Unix console
for a blind person using a soft Braille display (see the
README file for a full explanation).
BRLTTY only works with text-mode applications.
We hope that this system will be expanded to support
other soft Braille displays, and possibly even other
Keywords: Braille console access visually impaired blind
Author: email@example.com (Nikhil Nair)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Nicolas Pitre)
email@example.com (Stephane Doyon)
firstname.lastname@example.org (James Bowden)
Maintained-by: email@example.com (Nikhil Nair)
Primary-site: sunsite.unc.edu /pub/Linux/system/Access
110kb brltty-1.0.2.tar.gz (includes the README file)
Platforms: Linux (kernel 1.1.92 or later) running on a PC or DEC Alpha.
Supported Braille displays (serial communication only):
- Tieman B.V.: CombiBraille 25/45/85;
- Alva B.V.: ABT3xx series;
- Telesensory Systems Inc.: PowerBraille 40 (not 65/80),
Navigator 20/40/80 (latest firmware version only?).
Screen is a standard piece of software to allow many different
programs to run at the same time on one terminal. It has been
enhanced to support some Braille terminals (those from Telesensory)
This is a speech synthesiser listed in the Linux Software Map. It
doesn't apparently work well enough for use by a visually impaired
person. Use hardware instead, or improve it.. a free speech synthesiser
would be really really useful.
xocr is a package which implements optical character recognition for
Linux. As with
Rsynth, I don't think that this will be acceptable as
a package for use as a sole means of input by a visually impaired
person. I suspect that the algorithm used means that it will need to
be watched over by someone who can check that it is reading correctly.
I would love to be proved wrong.
xzoom is a screen magnifier, in the same vein as
but sufficiently better to be very useful to a visually impaired
person. The main disadvantages of
xzoom are that it can't magnify
under itself, that some of the key controls aren't compatible with
fvwm, the normal Linux window manager and that it's default
configuration doesn't run over a network (this can be fixed at some
expense to speed). Apart from that though, it's excellent. It does
continuous magnification which allows you to, for example, scroll a
document up and down, whilst keeping the section you are reading
magnified. Alternatively, you can move a little box around the
screen, magnifying the contents and letting you search for the area
you want to see.
xzoom is also available as an rpm from the
normal RedHat sites, making it very easy to install for people using
the rpm system (such as Redhat users).
Entered-date: Mar 30 1996
Description: xzoom can magnify (by integer value) rotate
(by a multiple if 90 degrees) and mirror about
the X or Y axes areas on X11 screen
and display them in it's window.
Keywords: X11 zoom magnify xmag
Author: Itai Nahshon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Maintained-by: Itai Nahshon <email@example.com>
probably in /pub/Linux/X11/xutils/xzoom-0.1.tgz
Platforms: Linux+11. Support only for 8-bit depth.
Tested only in Linux 1.3.* with the XSVGA 3.1.2
Needs the XSHM extension.
nfbtrans is a multi-grade Braille translation program
distributed by the National Federation for the Blind in the U.S.A. It
is released for free in the hope that someone will improve it.
Languages covered are USA English, UK English, Spanish, Russian,
Esperanto, German, Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Greek, though others
could be added just by writing a translation table. Also covered are
some computer and math forms. I have managed to get it to compile
under Linux, though, not having a Braille embosser available at the
present moment I have not been able to test it.
NFBtrans is available from
downloading it, you will have to compile it.
Compiling NFBtrans on Linux
I have returned this patch to the maintainer of NFBtrans and he
says that he has included it, so if you get a version later than 740,
you probably won't have to do anything special. Just follow the
instructions included in the package.
unzip -L NFBTR740.ZIP #or whatever filename you have
mv makefile Makefile
Next save the following to a file (e.g.
*** nfbpatch.c.orig Tue Mar 12 11:37:28 1996
--- nfbpatch.c Tue Mar 12 11:37:06 1996
*** 185,190 ****
--- 185,193 ----
} /* filelength */
+ #ifndef linux
+ /* pretty safe to assume all linux has usleep I think ?? this should be
+ done properly anyway */
*** 195,200 ****
--- 198,204 ----
UKP } /* usleep */
patch < patch-file
and the program should compile.
UnWindows is a package of access utilities for X which provides
many useful facilities for the visually impaired (not blind). It
includes a screen magnifier and other customised utilities to help
locate the pointer. UnWindows can be downloaded from
As it comes by default, the package will not work on Linux because it
relies on special features of Suns. However, some of the utilities do
work and I have managed to port most of the rest so this package may
be interesting to some people. My port will either be incorporated
back into the original or will be available in the BLINUX archives
WWW references). The remaining utility
which doesn't yet work is the configuration utility.
In my version the programs, instead of generating sounds themselves,
just call another program. The other program could for example be
Which would make the
xboing ouch noise, for example it could do
this as the pointer hit the left edge of the screen.
dynamag is a screen magnification program. please see the
section on Screen magnification (
magnification). This program worked in the default
coloreyes makes it easy to find the pointer (mouse) location.
It consists of a pair of eyes which always look in the direction of
the pointer (like xeyes) and change color depending on how far away
the mouse is (unlike xeyes). This doesn't work in the default
distribution, but the test version, at the same location, seems to
border is a program which detects when the pointer (mouse) has
moved to the edge of the screen and makes a sound according to which
edge of the screen has been approached. The version which is
available uses a SUN specific sound system. I have now changed this
so that instead of that, it just runs a command, which could be any
Linux sound program.
The window manager is a special program which controls the location
of all of the other windows (programs) displayed on the X screen.
un-twm is a special version which will make a sound as the pointer
enters different windows. The sound will depend on what window has
been entered. The distributed version doesn't work on linux because,
border it relies on SUN audio facilities. Again I already
have a special version which will be avaliable by the time you read