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Date:      Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:14:29 -0400
From:      "Littlefield, Tyler" <>
To:        Polytropon <>
Subject:   Re: FreeBSD and accessibility
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <>

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On 9/16/2014 10:23 AM, Polytropon wrote:
> On Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:08:00 -0400, Littlefield, Tyler wrote:
>> Hello all:
>> I've looked into this before, but I'm really unsure how to proceed. I am
>> somewhat new to BSD, having used it on a server already. I have a lenovo
>> thinkpad from my school, which would be awesome for running BSD on a
>> separate partition. Problem is, I am blind and the installer is not
>> accessible.
> Do you have a Braille readout? Text screens should be
> perfectly readable (either by Braille tactile readout
> or by synth voice), at least it has been 25 years ago...

I'm not sure how this is supposed to work. The braille readouts you speak of are called braille displays. I have this: I've been using such
It presents a line of braille (an 80x24 display doesn't exist apart from research currently). It can be connected via USB to the system. There needs to be a couple things to make that work though, one of which is brltty and another of which is the actual driver for the display. You also mentioned speech synth: that also does exist and is what I was asking about. Sadly it doesn't come for free. You need sound and a software synth such as Espeak, or you need a hardware synth. I do not know of any synths that are USB, but I do think there are a couple, which also requires a driver. You also need a program which will allow you to navigate the screen and read line by line, char by char etc (yasr).

systems in the past. I'm not
blind, but highly interested in barrier-free (!) access
to computer technology. The systems I've been examining
had sliders to select the screen row (1 or 2 out of 25)
and then "print" those on a Braille line located infront
of the keyboard. This worked without software (!!!) for
every text-mode program under any operating system. In
addition, a synthetic voice could be requested for the
selected line.

I'd be interested to see what you're requesting. You would need some sort of driver for the characters on the screen to be recognized and then printed to the display, unless this used some sort of OCR (which probably wouldn't be hard given an 80x24 screen), though it would require considerably much more hardware. I know there are people that used something like this for a while, but I don't have anything like this.

  Today's PCs are too modern to allow this. :-(

FreeBSD's text mode installer would be _perfect_ for
this kind of use, unlike graphical installers that you
can hardly map on a tactile interface. Only voice would
be usable here.

Well, either braile or voice would work on a text or graphical installer. The screen reader presents the data to the synth and display that is currently in focus.

>> Would someone be interested in working with me to possibly create an
>> accessible installer? I'd be happy to host them and keep them updated
>> with new BSD releases. I'm just looking for some help getting off the
>> ground and making the installer speech enabled.

The installer itself doesn't include speech synthesis,
as it would require a running sound card interface at
this early stage. The FreeBSD installation environment
is not "advanced" enough to provide this, but a live
system might be. For example, like FreeSBIE which enables
sound if possible. From such an environment, interfacing
with existing voice synthesizer software shouldn't be

this is totally doable, but again requires that I somehow bootstrap brltty+drivers or something else in to the live cd.

>> Eventually I'd really like to see PCBsd get up and running with an
>> accessible installer and orca for the window system, but I'm unsure as
>> of right now what all Orca supports and how hard that would be.
> Yes, PC-BSD with its graphical installer could also be
> a good starting point, as they run X during installation.
> Loading sound card drivers and adding some synthesizer
> to the dialog screens could be possible.

Take care,
He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; he that dares not reason is a slave.

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