Trying to get started

José Vilmar Estácio de Souza vilmar at
Wed Aug 3 14:41:05 UTC 2011

I think that ubuntu 11.04 is not the better choice.
First there is the problem related to the CapsLock ke. Yes, it is a bug.
Ubuntu 11.04 uses unity as the default interface and I think that there
are problems regarding accessibility.

In myopinion you should try ubuntu 10.10 or try vinux,

On 08/03/2011 11:10 AM, Antony Stone wrote:
> Hi.
> I'm trying to get a machine set up with a recent version of Orca for a blind 
> friend.  We've been advised that Ubuntu is currently the best distribution to 
> choose for getting an up-to-date version (ie: with as many features, and 
> working as well as possible).
> 1. First question - is this correct, or should we be doing something else to 
> get the most functional version of Orca possible?
> We're using a Braille display (ie: we prefer not to use speech), which is 
> supported by BRLTTY (it's a Papenmeier Compact 40-cell display).
> Things seem to be difficult to get going in a reliable way, though:
> I have installed Ubuntu 11.04 as standard (ie: I did not select a Braille 
> display or any other accessible features to do the actual installation - I am 
> sighted).
> After installing, I logged in under my friend's username, and selected 
> Accessibility Features on Login, made sure Orca was selected, and told Orca we 
> wanted Braille.
> I also selected "password confirmations as normal dialogue boxes", so that 
> these should work on the Braille display.
> The first problem we encounter is how to log in.  We start the machine, I can 
> see the GRUB menu (my friend can't, so blind dual-boot still appears to be not 
> an option), the machine starts up X, and a login dialogue box appears.
> The Braille display says "Screen not in text mode" - the login prompt is not 
> shown.
> 2. Second question - how do we get the login prompt shown on the Braille 
> display so that my friend can log in quietly?
> As a workaround I recorded an audio clip of "Please enter username, return; 
> password, return" and set this as the "System ready" sound (I spent some time 
> setting it up as the "login" sound, only to find that this is played *after* 
> the user logs in, not at the prompt telling them to log in...).
> So, my friend now knows when to enter her username and password, and can log 
> in.
> Orca starts up, with speech, and announces that it is running and the 
> Preferences button is active.
> Nothing appears on the Braille display (except "Screen not in text mode" from 
> when X started while BRLTTY was already running).
> I have to restart BRLTTY, and then also restart Orca, for the Braille display 
> to become functional.
> 3. Third question - what have we misconfigured here, which stops Orca from 
> showing Braille as soon as it starts up?  (We can hear the standard BRLTTY 
> startup bleep, and we see "Screen not in text mode", so we know BRLTTY is 
> running and driving the Braille display correctly).
> Having restarted things for my friend, she can now start navigating the menus, 
> and I've been helping her by reading the Orca / Gnome documentation at 
> This tells us we can use Alt-F1 to get to the Applications menu; this works.
> It doesn't appear to tell us how to get to the "Status bar" menu which I can 
> see in the top right corner of the screen - the one with icons for wireless 
> networking, volume control, and particularly important, the shutdown / logout 
> / restart menu button (the one which to a sighted user looks like a power 
> switch icon).
> 4. Fourth question - is this the correct documentation we should be using for 
> the keyboard navigation keys, and how do we get to the logout / shutdown menu 
> without the mouse working?
> Oh, yes, while I'm thinking about the mouse, the computer we're using has a 
> touchpad, which of course does all sorts of undesirable things when randomly 
> touched by a blind person typing.  Since I'm a fairly advanced Linux user, I 
> set up sudoers to allow my friend's user ID to run rmmod without a password, 
> and then put "sudo rmmod psmouse" into the list of applications to run at 
> login time for her username - however this seems rather advanced for an 
> average blind user; is there some more standard way of saying "disable the 
> touchpad when Iog in"?
> Getting back to Orca, I've selected the laptop keyboard layout, therefore 
> CapsLock is the Orca Modifier key.  CapsLock-S disables or enables speech, as 
> expected.  It also leaves CapsLock turned on after pressing it (or off if it 
> was on beforehand) - in other words, CapsLock is still acting as the standard 
> toggle, it isn't being fully captured by Orca, even though on an older version 
> of Orca (whatever came with Debian Lenny, I can't recall the version number) 
> the CapsLock key worked correctly as an Orca Modifier, and did not leave 
> CapsLock turned on after you had used some Orca function.
> 5. Fifth question - is this a known bug, or something we've misconfigured?  How 
> can we get the CapsLock key to act as an Orca modifier without leaving capitals 
> turned on afterwards?
> I know there's more - my friend has been exploring the menus as much as she 
> can given the documentation we've found so far, and she's commented that 
> various things seem to be either very slow, or don't appear to respond 
> properly, but I'd rather see if we can get some answers to these basics before 
> going into detail about other things which might just be a consequence of a 
> sub-optimal configuration.
> Sorry about the length of this email, but I wanted to give as good a 
> description as possible of what we're doing and what seems to be happening; I 
> hope someone can help shed some light on how to get things working better.
> By the way, if the answer is "reinstall Ubuntu following the instructions at 
> http://XYZ" then that's no problem; we have nothing significant set up on the 
> machine so far, and reinstalling to get things working as intended would be 
> fine.
> Thanks in advance,
> Antony.

More information about the Ubuntu-accessibility mailing list