Unicode for the Blind

From: Dean Snyder (dean.snyder@jhu.edu)
Date: Mon Apr 11 2005 - 13:28:38 CST

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    I just talked with a fellow researcher who is blind. He reads Ancient
    Near Eastern texts in transliteration on his laptop. Software converts
    (imperfectly) these transliterations, one line at a time, into tactile

    He wants to be able to read cuneiform when it is encoded in Unicode.
    Since encoded Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform has 957 characters and 8-dot
    Braille has 256 characters, he suggested that the best way to do this is
    to simply pass on the actual Unicode code points to the Braille display
    so he could read the characters as numbers. (He has an excellent memory
    for this.)

    Two questions:

    1) Is this something the operating systems should provide as part of
    their accessibility packages so it would work system-wide and not in just
    a few dedicated applications?

    2) Other than speech synthesis, how do blind CJK computer users interact
    with text on their computers? I can imagine that it would be very hard to
    cut, copy, and paste using only speech synthesized audio streams.


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850
    cell: 717 817-4897

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