There are a wide range of physical disabilities that can impair a user’s ability to interact with computers and applications. Most of the Linux distributions come with some assistive technology tools built in for visually and physically challenged users. One of the earliest tools was Emacspeak (currently at version 31), a free screen reader that allows users to interact independently with the computer. It is available for most versions of Linux. The Emacspeak desktop works with a variety of applications, including browsers.
Screen readers are software applications that provide translation of the information on the computer screen to an audio output format. The translation is passed to the speech synthesizer, and the words are spoken out loud. Currently, fully functional screen readers are available for Linux only in console mode. The following are some of the most common screen readers:
This tool is classified as a screen reader, but the creator calls it an “audio desktop.” It is an excellent nongraphical, text-based interface for users who are visually impaired. This application can be used as a screen reader in conjunction with a hardware synthesizer or IBM ViaVoice® Run-time text-to-speech application.
An older screen reader for Linux in console mode. This package also includes the ability to read logfiles of an interactive session and contains customizable speech commands.
A screen review package for the Linux operating ...