A view of Linux as introduced by a blind user via Orca

Darragh Ó Héiligh, a blind Linux user in Ireland, has just posted an audio introduction of Fedora Linux with Orca. In his recording, Darragh acts as a tour guide showing some highlights of his Fedora Core 7 desktop through the Orca screen reader. Using the TTSynth text-to-speech engine (the only commercial software he is using), he invites you to listen in as he explores his desktop, reads some of his e-mail via the Evolution e-mail application, browses the web with Firefox, reads through an Excel (.xls) spreadsheet in OpenOffice.org, and reads through a Word document (.doc) also in OpenOffice.org. Both the spreadsheet and word processing document are files from his employer (with no confidential data revealed).

Darragh is a longtime JAWS users, and throughout his Linux introduction, he makes comparisons to the JAWS computing experience in Windows. In a posting last month to the Visually Impaired Computer Society of Ireland, Darrah describes his first experience using Orca on Linux to interview people at work - something he used to do on Windows with JAWS and MS-Office, but last month started doing with Linux, Orca, and OpenOffice.org. Darrah describes the process of reading through the interview script file (a '.doc' file), and writing notes in another window (saved as a '.doc' file to share with his work colleagues).

"Windows is still not my preferred operating system" reports Darragh at the end of his audio tour. "With the recent advances in Orca in GNOME, and the fact that with the work of the people on the Speakup Modified group, Fedora 7 makes it very easy to set up, and with the combination of everything it's just so fast to use; it's really becoming just a pleasure." His final comment, after noting the responsiveness of Orca with TTSynth and OpenOffice.org: "It's just getting the job done faster than it is in Windows."

In September he starts a new job with Novell, where he will be using Linux full time.

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Peter Korn

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