20 February, 2011
I began using Linux on and off in 2003. I've tried out Ubuntu, Knoppix, Open-Solaris, and Open-Suse. They all have accessibility in some way. They all incorporate the gnome desktop, and thus are able to use the Orca screen reader. However, it often took many work-arounds to get things working as they should. You might have to enable it to allow you to access administrative applications, you might have to install accessible applications to do some things because the app installed was not accessible or usable with orca, etc etc. Tony Sales recognized that there was a place out there for an accessible Linux Distrobution that would enable accessibility out of the box and would allow blind and visually impaired users to use it as an alternative to windows and mac. In windows, if someone wants to be truly productive, they have to buy a screen reader which costs $900 or above and was extremely buggy. If you wanted a mac, while accessibility was built in, the hardware is extremely expensive. Vinux, or visually impaired Linux which is now a variant of Ubuntu Linux enabled access to the entire operating system for blind and visually impaired individuals. It also does not need a very powerful machine to run. And it is possible to install Vinux without relying on someone's assistance right out of the box without using an automated script. Not only was Orca installed and configured and optimized for speed and efficiency, but other apps such as yasr (a screen reader for the terminal), thunderbird (an accessible email client) and firefox have been enabled and in some instances optimized to work even better for the blind individual. Also, high-contrast appearances and fonts were installed to improve its look for visually impaired individuals. Over the past couple of years, I have been using Linux and now Vinux full time. I head up the documentation team as well as the testing team. I urge everyone to at least take a look at this operating system. It is possible to run it from a CD, from a USB thumb drive, as a virtual operating system inside of windows, or you can install it on the hard drive alongside windows or on its own. Please click here to visit the vinux homepage and to find out more. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.