Version 3 of the Linux-based Gnome desktop features a complete redesign and also includes
accessibility features from the ground up. Gnome developer Eitan Isaacson talks about these
enhancements and the state of Linux for the blind in this audio interview.
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The developer seemed more familiar with Gnome than he was with linux access. I am a big fan of Vinux which is a Ubuntu-based distribution that is currently the easiest one to install and use. But if you want to try Linux on an old slow machine with minimal memory, and you don't mind reading online documentation, it is quite possible to use Linux accessibly on hardware that is even ten years old. Vinux needs a modern system, but will run in Windows under vmware, and there's an easy virtual package that makes it a snap for a blind user to install with no knowledge of vmware required. People who don't like Vinux can choose between several other accessible distributions. Lastly, access to Braille displays is controled by Brltty in Linux, and though your interviewee was unsure about this, it supports modern and very old displays, which you can often pick up quite cheaply on ebay. I am using a PowerBraille with a usb-to-serial converter, and it took a bit of tweaking but now works better in Linux than it does with JAWS, because FS stopped supporting the PowerBraille in serial! So when I want to surf the web with Braille support, using this old display I bought for $80 on ebay, I turn to Linux!
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.