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Increasing use of Emacs among the blind

From: Tim Cross
Subject: Increasing use of Emacs among the blind
Date: Sat, 5 Nov 2016 16:46:29 +1100

Just to clarify, spaemacs is emacs - it is just a 'canned' configuration of
emacs i.e. a pre-configured installation of emacs with a predefined
workflow for managing your configuration.

These pre-defined emacs configurations have become quite popular in the
last few years. They have the benefit of making it easier to get up and
running for new users. They have the disadvantage of reducing individual
understanding, which tends to also decrease the individuals ability to
resolve issues without assistance and to really customise their emacs
workflow to meet their needs. For casual users, this may not be a bad
approach. However, for anyone who really wants to get the benefit and power
of emacs, they will usually become limiting vary quickly.

I have looked at spacemacs and did use it briefly with speechd. However, I
ran into the same problem I have encountered with many of these pre-defined
emacs configurations. The emphasis on visual interfaces.

For example, a vary popular configuration used by many of the pre-defined
emacs setups is helm. For a sighted user, helm is a great tool. However, it
relies heavily on visual clues and does not provide much benefit for anyone
with a vision impairment. It also does not work well with things like
speechd or emacspeak.  Other features, such as tooltips, various popups and
other configuration options used by many of these pre-defined setups are
likewise difficult to use or provide no real benefit for anyone relying on
speech synthesis.

A predefined setup for people with vision impairments is a good idea.
However, I don't think any of the existing configuration systems are
particularly suitable. Of those I've looked at, I found Purcell's emacs.d
setup to be one of the better ones (see https://github.com/purcell/emacs.d
). However, many of them had some aspects which were useful.

My suggestion would be to start from scratch, but borrow with pride from
many of the other pre-defined solutions out there. Many of these
pre-defined solutions have some vary nice configuration examples which you
could put into a pre-defined setup which is specifically designed for uses
of speechd or emacspeak.

Although it is heavily oriented to may own needs, you may also find my
emacs init-org repository useful. It is far from polished, but includes
some example emacs init setups for emacspeak, speechd, a minimal setup and
some scripts for generating your init.el file from an org file. Note that I
have been transitioning to use the use-package elap package, but am a long
way from being complete. One of the advantages of use-package is that it
can drastically speed up your emacs startup time by deferring package
loading until they are necessary. However, there are some hidden gotchas in
getting this to work correctly and I've not yet got all of that done. As a
consequence, my current setup (from the new-init.org file) tends to force
loading of all packages, which increases the load time. My repo can be
found at https://github.com/theophilusx/emacs-init-org


On 5 November 2016 at 08:29, Fernando Botelho <Fernando.Botelho at f123.org>

> Hi everyone,
> We have started a project to develop and bring together a variety of BASH
> scripts to automate as much as possible, the installation and setup of an
> Arch distro containing some form of Emacs and eventually GUI environments
> for occasional use.
> We want to make it easier and more intuitive for beginners, so we are
> considering going with Spacemacs instead of Emacs. The main point is to
> make it easier for non-technical people like myself, to be able to install
> and use Spacemacs most of the time, and only use GUI tools as an exception
> in their daily routine. The idea is that even non-technical blind persons
> deserve to be efficient.
> If you are interested in learning some more, here is our intro page:
> https://public.f123.org/experimental/About-F123e.html
> I hope that those interested will join our list. It is very low traffic.
> F123e+subscribe at groups.io
> I would like to ask if anybody on this list has had the opportunity to try
> using SpeechD-el on Spacemacs. Any guidance or suggestions are most welcome.
> Best regards,
> Fernando
> _______________________________________________
> Speechd mailing list
> Speechd at lists.freebsoft.org
> http://lists.freebsoft.org/mailman/listinfo/speechd



Tim Cross
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