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Re: [NEWS] OpenOffice Foundation to MA: We have a plugin

  • Subject: Re: [NEWS] OpenOffice Foundation to MA: We have a plugin
  • From: arachnid <donthaveone@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 07 May 2006 08:56:42 -0500
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: Posted via Supernews, http://www.supernews.com
  • References: <r2mq5293kvlngogoa3ti6ftb9211j6jfon@4ax.com> <4c5n2cF1462udU1@individual.net>
  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1107201
On Sun, 07 May 2006 08:48:28 +0100, B Gruff <bbgruff@xxxxxxxxxxx>

>On Sunday 07 May 2006 03:25 arachnid wrote:
>> I bet Microsoft is really thrilled...
>I'm sure they are:-)

I tend more towards technical than office use so I don't know much
about openoffice. I wonder if this plugin has been there all along, or
did they know this was coming and quietly prepare a little surprise?

>One (perhaps the only) major concern of the public re. the MA decision came
>from the vision-impaired.  Many (several?) vision-impaired MA employees
>claimed to have spent many thousands of dollars obtaining equipment, both
>hardware and software, which was specific to MS Windows and MS Office.
>MA assured them that they would not lose their jobs etc., and that MA would
>do everything that it could for them in this respect when the change came.

I used to have a girlfriend who was blind and wanted to learn to use a
computer. A few of her friends got in on the deal and I was soon
teaching an informal class. We very quickly learned that Microsoft's
"accessiblility" features were so poorly implemented as to be useless
to anyone who relied on a braille terminal or a voice synthesizer.

I tried writing some software to help my class out but the Windows
hooks I needed - hooks that were surely needed by anyone else writing
software for blind users - just weren't there. After a long struggle
with Windows we were all forced to fall back to DOS.  I tried to get
some kind of dialog going with MS to see if I could talk them into
adding a few simple hooks to Windows but nobody ever responded to my
letters. They must have made some changes eventually because there's
some software out there now that lets blind users work with Windows.
However, there was no need for it to take so long. 

OTOH... a few years ago I had a chat with a blind programmer who uses
Linux. He said its large base of well-maintained console applications
made it the most blind-friendly OS he's ever used. Also, having the
source code meant that he could tweak things to work better with his
equipment and then send the improvements back to the project to be
enjoyed by other blind users. And - in contrast to Microsoft's deaf
ears - he said that whenever he sent in changes, he'd get a round of
emails from OSS progammers asking for tips on accomodating blind
users. He was just starting to think of creating a distro specifically
for blind users but I don't know if anything ever came of it.

Hmmm... just for kicks just went to sourceforge and typed "blind" into
the search box. Weeding out a few irrelevant hits, I get about 45
related Linux paqes:


Wow, I wish I'd had this stuff back when I was teaching classes and
writing software for blind users... there's all sorts of blind-adapted
applications, a few games, developer tools for blind programmers and
more tools and libraries for developers who want to ensure their
software works with braille and voice. Neat stuff! 

Ok, now freshmeat:


There we are: Oralux, "A Linux live CD with text to speech support for
the visually impaired". Also Zipspeak, "A talking mini-distribution of
Linux for visually impaired people.". And Madison, which looks really

"Madison is a ongoing effort to provide high quality access to modern
and effective computer technology for individuals who are blind and
have a severe limit on mobility or control which limits the use of
standard input technologies. It bases input on a joystick and three
switches. The joystick can be thought of as a navigation aid like the
cursor keys up, down, left, and right. An expanded Morse (eMorse) code
is used to replace the keyboard; the three buttons represent dot,
dash, and meta..."

> Also, how cheering to see this plug-in come from the OSS Community
> - we can trust that it will work, will continue to work and be upgraded, 
> will be freely available, will have no licence restrictions, and will be 
> seen to have been provided as such when MS were seen to be either 
> unable or unwilling to provide anything similar.

Any bets on how long before MS makes an "improvement" to MS Office
that "just happens" by sheer cosmic against-all-odds coincidence to
break this plugin?

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