[AI] Red Hat Linux accessibility

Roopakshi Pathania r_akshi_tgk at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 11 14:22:28 EDT 2010

Hi Prashant

This topic is too vast to fit in a single email.
Clearly you and your team would have to do some amount of research.
I’ll just start with what I consider as the basic stuff.

To begin with, you need to find out what variant of Red Hat platform is going to be installed by the government.
There are 2 main editions for desktops: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Fedora.
While Red Hat Enterprise Linux has to be purchased and comes with a subscription for technical support, Fedora is entirely free and developed by the Red Hat community.
Also, Red Hat Enterprise edition is largely based on the Fedora distribution, but is suppose to be far more stable.
So, which variant is Maharashtra Government going with?

There are 3 popular assistive tools available on Linux for visually impaired users and these 3 can be run on all major Linux distributions.
Moreover, a user can perform all the common tasks –text editing, checking emails, surfing, writing programs- using any of these 3 tools.

Orca: judging by the people mentioning this one on this list, it seems to be the most popular one in India. Orca is meant for dealing with GUI applications on Linux like Open Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. Orca is somewhat similar to the Windows based screen readers.
Unlike what most people believe, Orca can run on any Linux distribution, in fact it comes already installed on most major distributions. On Ubuntu, one can easily start Orca just before boot options on the live CD. This is useful for independently installing the distribution. This is why Ubuntu is more popular than other Linux distributions.
Emacspeak: This provides speech for an application called Emacs, but Emacspeak is not a screen reader. Emacs is a very powerful text editor with many extensions and you can do pretty much anything in it.
See the following case study to get an idea.
Speakup: this is a screen reader for the Linux console. Many Linux users prefer to do tasks through the command line.

To train your students, you should probably start with the use of these assistive tools and their interaction with popular open source applications.
Till the time you don’t know the exact Red Hat platform that would be in use, you should start with Vinux, a Linux distribution specially compiled for the visually impaired.

Perhaps you may also like to contact CDAC as they are in your city.

They are involved in open source accessibility, though I’m not sure if they could be of any direct help to you. Checkout the following web page for information on their projects in this area.


--- On Mon, 8/9/10, Prashant Naik <pranaik at gmail.com> wrote:

> From: Prashant Naik <pranaik at gmail.com>
> Subject: [AI] Red Hat Linux accessibility
> To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
> Date: Monday, August 9, 2010, 12:49 PM
> Dear friends,
> Please guide me on Red Hat Linux accessibility for
> blind.  Its
> operating system and applications accessibility. 
> Which screen reader
> and screen magnifier program works on this GNOME open
> source OS.
> Thanks,
> Prashant Naik
> Voice your thoughts in the blog to discuss the Rights of
> persons with disability bill at:
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