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Laptops, Notebook, PDAs, Mobile Phones, eBooks for Blind & Visually Impaired Linux Users

This is small list of Linux laptops and PDAs connected to Braille terminals. The installations were done by non-blind people like me. But I would like to add installation reports from blind people. If you have information about the usage of Unix on mobile computers helping otherwise impaired persons either physically or mentally please let me know, too. Also other Linux tools suitable for blind or visually impaired people are mentioned.

Werner Heuser <wehe_at_tuxmobil.org>

Laptop and Notebook Installation Reports

ACER AcerNote Light 370PCCDebian Potato 
Toshiba Libretto 50CT  NEW  ZipSpeak Linux 
Toshiba T1100 Plus [archived link]ELKS Linux 

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Stéphane Doyon wrote at the iPAQ mailing list: "We (Nicolas Pitre and myself) have successfully ported brltty to the COMPAQ iPAQ and tested the setup by interfacing with a BrailleLite 18 through the serial port. BRLTTY is a program that allows access to the Linux text-mode console using various brands of Braille displays. The BrailleLite is a small electronic Braille notetaker device which can act as a small refreshable Braille display. It also has keys so I can not only read but also type. So there's just the iPAQ and the BrailleLite device (with a horrible cable in between) and that's all I need to fully use the console on the iPAQ (in text-mode). A pretty powerful setup, yet very small. It should be possible to duplicate this setup with other Braille display models or other PDAs."

Input and Output Devices

SeebyTouch is the first development freely available providing the possibility to perceive pictures over the tactile sense. This is especially important for visually impaired people, since they cannot see pictures on a screen - they can use SeebyTouch as a tactile vision substitution system.

Loadstone GPS is a free navigational application designed to be used with a Bluetooth GPS receiver and a mobile phone using the Series60 platform on the Symbian operating system. Loadstone GPS was developed to be a low-cost feature-rich navigational assistant for the blind. Loadstone GPS allows a user to save points of interest and affectively create a map of the environment. Using this map a user is informed about his or her relative position to these points and knows the heading and distance to these points. This way Loadstone GPS omits the use of (expensive) professionally designed maps while providing all of the orientational information that is needed to move around in the environment. The program is therefore able to help the user to learn and memorise a route; enabling the user to locate points such as: a supermarket, a friends' house, a train station/bus stop and even their home's front entrence

Linux Distributions for Blind People

Many blind people have install Linux "eyes-free" either by using another computer (that already talks or includes Braille) as a terminal. Or, they use the SpeakUp screen reader, because it's a set of kernel patches that gives audible feedback from bootup to shutdown. Boot disks that include SpeakUp are part of several major distributions.

  • Oralux is a GNU/Linux distribution for blind or visually impaired people based on Knoppix.
  • BLINUX - Linux for blind people
  • ZipSpeak is a talking mini Linux distribution designed to help blind people get started with Linux. It is based on the popular Slackware Linux distribution, and encorporates the Speakup Linux screen reader.
  • BRaiLleSPEAK is a mini (UMSDOS) Linux distribution, with braille and speech support built in. It comes with a pre-configuration tool, and an auto-compiler function for the Braille driver, so it can be easily installed and run by blind users.

eBook Readers

Simultaneous Stanza Reader

Free Text-to-Speech with Large Font E-book Reader for the Visually Impaired

Simultaneous Stanza Reader speaks text files aloud and displays the text stanza-after-stanza simultaneously in a high contrast, large font window. Although this reader is meant to assist those with visual impairments, it can be used by anyone. It allows one to read a book while doing something else or sitting in a comfortable chair across the room. It is written for MAC OS X in Applescript Studio - applescript and xcode. See here for more information about AudioBooks, eBooks and Linux.


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© Werner Heuser 1997-2015 · http://tuxmobil.org/mobile_blind.html · last change Mon Jun 3 2013