4 August 2008, 15:57
As part of an assignment for my usability class, I had to test web accessibility.
First, I wanted to try what was bundled in Ubuntu, since you hear that it’s an accessible operating system.
So I tried Orca, it sounds awful (clearly a distro integration problem) and after a little messing around, I finally found out that I would need to work to get this going because it needs firefox 3 (I’m still using 2 since I haven’t upgraded my ubuntu to 8.04 yet).
Then I tried Firefox Accessibility Extension developed by Illinois Center for Information Technology Accessibility (ICITA). It is nice and it does output useful information but it seems that it is intended for developers. I couldn’t find any component that would do screen reading.
Next, I decided to try Firevox. When installing on linux you get to choose between Orca or Java’s FreeTTS as the voice engine. I went with Orca since it was already installed. That didn’t work either. No sound. I wanted to do it using FreeTTS but since it was not packaged in Ubuntu in a clean way (having to mess with Java’s classpath), I abandonned.
Next, I wanted to try the Sound Enhanced Lynx but seeing that the installation seemed complex, I decided to search for a package in Synaptic. I found LSR. I installed it and try to run it from the menu. Nothing.
From command line:
olivier@boreale:~$ lsr Linux Screen Reader ver. 0.5.3 rev. Mon Jun 4 17:21:12 UTC 2007 Copyright (c) 2005, 2007 IBM Corporation Traceback (most recent call last): File "/usr/bin/lsr", line 29, in <module> AEMain.main() File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/lsr/AEMain.py", line 624, in main mtd(options) File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/lsr/AEMain.py", line 385, in run raise ValueError(_('Profile %s does not exist') % options.profile) ValueError: Profile None does not exist@
Ok, well I’ll try creating a profile.
olivier@boreale:~$ lsr -c user Linux Screen Reader ver. 0.5.3 rev. Mon Jun 4 17:21:12 UTC 2007 Copyright (c) 2005, 2007 IBM Corporation Created profile user
Next, try to get some speech to output:
olivier@boreale:~$ lsr -y "this is a test" Linux Screen Reader ver. 0.5.3 rev. Mon Jun 4 17:21:12 UTC 2007 Copyright (c) 2005, 2007 IBM Corporation No handlers could be found for logger "Device" Said: this is a test
Aah, no sound output, digging around I find that I need to install gnome-speech. So I popped up Synaptic and searched for
gnome-speech and found a few different implementation. I decided to install
gnome-speech-ibmtts which pulled a couple of dependencies. Tried again without any output..
Going back to Sound Enhanced Lynx (SeLynx). I tried to download the tarball: 404 Missing Document. Argh!
After all of this, for my assignment, I ended up fetching html documents using
wget and then sending the raw html to espeak using the right parameters. Even that didn’t went that well:
olivier@boreale:~$ espeak -m -f index.html Erreur de segmentation (core dumped)
But I was able to get some relevant sound before the segfault.
So, before doing this little test I thought Linux was pretty accessible for visually impaired people. My conclusion: It is not! After all this messing around I was not able to get screen reading for a web browser working. That’s sad.
— Olivier Bilodeau