Thursday, August 12, 2010

Help the Ubuntu (Linux) Accessibility Team

I am a big proponent of open source software and I personally love using Linux at home. Since I began using it on my laptop about three or four years ago, I've found it to be more comfortable than Windows ever is for me - more customizable and more fluid for the way I work.

Accessibility When Computing
In any operating system, accessibility is a big concern. Many people are already familiar with the accessibility features in Windows and additional software that can be used, but when it comes to a smaller operating system - like the one I use at home, Ubuntu Linux - newcomers to the system may have no idea it even has accessibility features. But as Penelope Stowe (a member of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team) is quoted on the blog jonobacon@home, "[a]t the heart of Ubuntu’s philosophy is the belief that computing is for everyone, whatever your circumstances."

Help Ubuntu Developers
On Ubuntu's website, they have a survey that will help developers understand computer users and the accessibility technology they need. You can help out the Accessibility Team by filling out the survey and emailing it to the address indicated on the page.

Currently Existing Tools
Penelope Stowe says " The Ubuntu Accessibility team has existed from the start, providing support to those requiring assistive technology to operate the Ubuntu desktop." What is currently available for Ubuntu users?

Click here for the Ubuntu Accessibility Start Guide, and here's a link to a good rundown of options.
  • Press F5 when booting an Ubuntu live CD* to bring up options for those with varying visual impairments or motor difficulties
  • Orca is a screen reader that uses a combination of speech, braille, and magnification
  • On-screen keyboard
  • Mousetrap is an alternative input system that uses a webcam
  • Dasher is a gesture-driven input system
  • And of course, programs like Open Office (for word processing) and Firefox have their own accessibility options
* A Live CD is a copy of the Ubuntu operating system that can be loaded on your computer without affecting your original operating system, like Windows. It's a great way to try Ubuntu without committing to it.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I tried ubuntu a year ago, but used it for short time...i only use it for watching anime or movies because windows has processes keep building up kbs, making movies go slow....ubuntu, no problem because it is very simple running OS


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