does anyone who is visually impaired or otherwise rely on screen readers have any experience with trying to use linux ?

from what i can tell the linux experience seems pretty hostile to screen readers, and there's not very much resources dedicated to orca, which seems to be the main implementation .

please share your experiences with me if you can, i want to try to make things better .

please boost :boost_requested:

just wanna let everyone know i'm gonna go through these and read them tomorrow, ty for all your feed back and keep it coming <3

@theotheroracle this video is by a visually impaired developer’s experience and critique on elementary OS. He mentioned some of his problems, might be helpful for you

@theotheroracle I am starting to work on the accessibility infrastructure. From what people tell me, Orca and the infra mostly do their job (caveat: problems with event snooping on Wayland), but the bigger problem is that applications don't often pay attention to being accessible. If you have specific problems, I can help you file bugs in the appropriate place or maybe help you fix them.


(I hope hashtags can be read properly by your screen reader)
I don't have answers myself but here are some links to several #linux systems designed for #blind people or for any form of #visualimpairment


#knoppixadriane based on #knoppixlinux

#SlintLinux based on #slackware

Hoping you'll find some efficient help there


@theotheroracle Hi, I'm a legally blind long-term orca user and a linux enthusiast. Gtk and Qt applications generally work well unless they implement special widgets. Desktop environments (except for GNOME in my experience) are mostly broken. Maybe that's a good place to start. And bring some life into the GNOME a11y and orca mailing lists.


Have a look here

1) "Computer science. They create software for the visually impaired
On September 3 at the Forum des associations, Alis 44110, will present software that allows visually impaired people to use a computer without difficulty."

2) Handy déficient visuel linux at DuckDuckGo

Access DV linux

@theotheroracle i can talk about it. Cinnamon has the best magnifier tool. Gnome has lots of keyboard shortcuts

do you have an opinion on what the best system overall is ?

@theotheroracle GNU/Linux and a DE to choose

All depends in level impaired and the needs. There are tools to help. Also depends on the tech level.
@theotheroracle as i said before, if you can see and read but need a magnifier every time, i retommand using Cinnamon (the DE). There is a magnifier that this DE is the only one to give that is very usefull and easy to use. alt+mouse wheel makes a rectangle window that follows the cursor. At wheeling, the content is zoomed.

I would love to see it in #Gnome DE cause it'really the best natural use

@theotheroracle I know ppl used to use emacspeak which was very good. It is still actively developed:

(TV Raman advised my MSc thesis research :-) he always used Unix so I guess support for visually impaired has always been fine. But emacspeak is special - due to its integration with emacs very cool task specific audio rendering is possible.)

@theotheroracle is there a command line for the blind? Like an audio-only alternative to Bash? I would be very interested in that. Seems to me, something like that might be easier to learn and use than an audio-only terminal.

@theotheroracle Not first hand experience, but we had a blind person in my local LUG who was a contributor to a distro. I think it might have been Vinux, but I don't have current contact with them and can't check.

The impression I got at the time (which aligns with Vinux's active development - unfortunately, its websites are broken/not maintained. Sourceforge has the latest release from 2017 though) was that it was functional and usable as a primary desktop OS for their needs.

@theotheroracle My understanding of their feelings when we discussed it was that while there was plenty of room for improvement, having stuff pre-configured and enabled "out of the box" put it a long way ahead of its contemporaries.

@theotheroracle I'm using linux gnome on @ArchLinux_Community since 2012 all with orca. There are a few quirks and I have to be prepared for some compromises here and there but newertheles I like it. Technically speaking we do know linux #a11y is a mess and it needs refreshing in regard to modern technologies though.

@theotheroracle Oh hey there's an original post to this thread. Okay, gonna try to keep this... as short a rant as I can. Stuck on 500 chars so sorry if this takes a lot of toots to convey.

First, the blind user would have to install Linux. Getting an ISO onto a USB drive or SD Card from Windows or Mac isn't hard thanks to Rufus or Etcher. However, once the user boots into the OS setup, there's usually no way to know if anything is happening.

@theotheroracle Some Distros, like Debian, allow you to press s then Enter after a beep at boot time to choose to start the installer with speech, but most distros don't do this. Fedora, Ubuntu, ETC. have Orca during the installers (Orca is the GUI screen reader), but the blind person would have to dig a lot to find how to turn it on. The installers don't speak this. For the longest time, the Ubuntu Mate installer wasn't accessible until the user logged out and back into the session.

@theotheroracle So assuming the blind person gets into the installer, it has to be accessible. I think Fedora has been the easiest to use, if you can get used to "next underscore button" and quirks like that that would be puzzling to a new user.

Then, once the install is successful, you would need to start the screen reader again in the live session. BTW in installers and installed systems it should work with Super + Alt + s or Super + Alt + o. Assuming that shortcut was set up at all.

@theotheroracle So, next, the user would naturally try a few programs. Maybe Firefox to check email. They may find that nothing reads there. They then may try Pidgin to chat and see what's going on, if they're lucky enough to know other blind Linux users. This may work, but I doubt it. So then the user will give up and go back to Windows, or become a CLI fanatic, and I don't blame them.

@theotheroracle What the user needed to do is go into the personalization settings, go to Assistive Technologies, and check the box to Enable Assistive Technologies. I don't know if having that enabled by default slows down the OS so much that Desktop Environment makers just don't enable it, or if it *has* to be enabled in the first place, but that's a huge issue that's gonna drive any "normal" user away really quickly.

@theotheroracle So, let's say the blind person gets AT support enabled and all that. Now they have to learn how to use their new system. If they've used other systems before, they'll get to know it pretty quickly. Orca does have help pages, and can be customized pretty well.

So, the next thing is to get all the programs one used on Windows or Mac, on Linux.

@theotheroracle Firefox was the first desktop browser I know of to be accessible in Linux. Chrome is now too, along with many Chromeium based apps, unless the app has unlabeled buttons and all the usual web inaccessibility stuff. But what about blindness-specific stuff? Games, Twitter/Mastodon/Telegram clients?

@theotheroracle If you learn Emacs, you could use its Twitter client, and Mastodon client, and Telegram client with Emacspeak. But not without all that. At least, I've not found an easy way to do so. OCR? There's OCRDesktop, but I think only the Arch User Repository caries it, not Ubuntu or Debian or Fedora and all.

@theotheroracle Embossing is one thing that's way ahead of Windows. Cups comes with a driver for a few braille embossers, and a generic driver, and it not only can print text to the braille printer (embossers they're called), it can print immages too, through imagemagic. That's one thing I miss from Linux. I had everything setup but nooo boss wanted me to test Win11.

@theotheroracle Pretty much the games we have in Linux are:

* Audiogames from Windows played in Wine
* MUD's (text-based online RPG's)
* Offline text-based RPG's like Inform/Tads games
* Any accessible browser game

Not too bad, but nothing like what Windows users have.

@theotheroracle We have MUD's, but Windows users have lots of soundpacks, which make playing MUD's a lot more enjoyable and productive even, since you hear an attack as it happens, not when your screen reader eventually speaks it after everything else. So I never want to play fast-paced MUD's in a terminal.

@theotheroracle One thing Windows users have a lot, at least for NVDA, are addons. Orca is going to be getting that ... At some point, but NVDA users can do things like get the weather, translate text, add support for more braille display commands, continuously OCR the screen, add sounds to items on the screen so speech doesn't have to say as much, improve accessibility of apps, all kinds of stuff.

@theotheroracle The only time all that is possible in Orca currently, is when there's an update. That happens every... six months or so. Or every year or more for Debian.

@theotheroracle Oh hey, forgot about desktop environemtns. First, Gnome is *not* all that great. If you press Alt + F1, all you get is "window." What window? What's in it? What's it for? Did I break my computer? Oh dear god! Nah, just inaccessibility. Wanna change some settings? Good luck, their control center is a mess for screen readers.

@theotheroracle KDE? That's popular and accessible and all that right? For people with some usable vision maybe. The KDE Neon installer doesn't even *have* Orca. That tells me all I need to know right there. I've tried KDE, and it's even less accessible than Gnome.

@theotheroracle The only one that I've tried and actually like is Mate. I'm pretty sure the *only* reason that it's accessible is because it's based off of Gnome 2. Yeah. It really sucks because I'd love to use KDE. But it's only because the person that runs, who is sighted, works tirelessly with them on accessibility. It's nowhere near usable yet, but I eagerly await the day that it is.

@theotheroracle The blind Linux community have been burned so much on accessibility issues that they just stick with a very small set of programs. Pidgin running IRC, Firefox or Chrome, the CLI, and Arch Linux running Mate so that they can get the latest accessibility updates. A lot of DE issues is the blame game, Orca team, well rather the one person paid to work on accessibility stuff, not even just Orca, versus the DE and GUI teams.

@theotheroracle So yeah, one screen reader developer who, I must say, has held onto her roll for a long time even though so few people care at all, especially not at that company because of course another dev to help out would just be so impossible. But there's only so much she can do to get around the literal GUI frameworks, like GTK and QT, that desktop environments use.

@theotheroracle Oh yeah and Gnu posting their findings about minorities in a freaking PDF file! Because that's not a slap in the face of every blind person, no not at all! And then their accessibility statement, at
Which even says that PDF is a bad format. Lol. They're such hypocrites. Also it sounds like that page was last updated in maybe 2005 or so. Because we're not worth keeping the current list of problematic tech up to date.

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@theotheroracle You're welcome. I've tried Linux over the years, ... now I just use a ChromeBook with Chrostini (Debian Linux) and Emacs with Emacspeak for most stuff. Android apps help a lot.


I don't need or use them but can give one experience. When I first started using Trisquel I saw that the Orca screen reader was not only installed by default but running on startup. It's the only distro I have used where I noticed that.

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