opinions about MS Vista

Eric S. Johansson esj at harvee.org
Wed Nov 22 14:33:23 UTC 2006

Nikolai wrote:
> Very exciting. I have a feeling though that a lot of people have 
> abandoned MS WindowsXP not because the OS is dysfunctional (it's not, 
> it's actually quite useful for most people) but rather because of the MS 
> policies and disregard for those of us who value our freedoms, including 
> computing freedom.

this puts a fair number of handicapped people in a catch 22 situation. 
As wonderful as ubuntu/linux is, the situation for handicapped users 
(blind and upper extremity problems) is not good.  Blind people have it 
better then the upper extremity disabled people like me.  Text to speech 
can work if you have someone available to turn it on for you and the 
application supports the gnome at-spi.  But if you need to use speech 
recognition, you are well and truly screwed because the open source 
speech recognition engines are toys compared to the ones needed by 
disabled people.

For the most part, this means speech recognition users must use Windows. 
  There's no way around it.  If you want someone using speech 
recognition to use Linux, there are three ways to do so.  First is just 
plain text dictation into a terminal session.  Dictation into vnc can 
work but it's terribly CPU intensive under Windows and it reduces 
recognition accuracy.  the second is direct injection into x11 using 
some form of a mediator program.  It works for a few people, I haven't 
tried it yet because of a lack of time.  Hopefully over this weekend. 
The third method is a more complicated mediator which allows the Windows 
speech recognition application to completely control the Linux machine, 
Windows, menu items, etc..  From the speech recognition applications 
perspective, it is looking at a Microsoft Windows window so it can read 
everything and enable the appropriate grammars.  But in reality, it's 
controlling the active focus window on the Linux machine.

I know someone will start babbling about using wine and it would be nice 
except for the fact that you can't install any of the Windows speech 
recognition systems under wine.  Once you're able to accomplish that 
task, then you need to translate all of the Microsoft handicap 
accessibility API calls into gnome at-spi calls.  Which I believe is 
something that the wine community needs to spend some time thinking about.

Anyway, during handicap accessibility is not simple.  Windows is the 
best platform if you are disabled.  It sucks, I hate it, but then again, 
being disabled is no fun either.  I would love to do something about it 
except I need someone to subsidize the project if I'm going to do that.


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