Vinux is a remastered version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution optimised for the needs of blind and partially sighted users. By default it provides two screen-readers, two full-screen magnifiers, global font-size and colour changing facilities as well as support for USB Braille displays. When you boot the live CD you will be greeted by the Orca screen-reader/magnifier which enables you to navigate the graphical Gnome desktop using keybindings, as well as providing full screen-magnification if required. For those who prefer to work in a simple text based console there is the Speakup screen-reader. A second full-screen magnifier is provided by the Compiz Window Manager, which uses 3D technology to allow you to magnify and navigate the whole screen using the mouse, or move a resizable virtual magnifying glass around the screen. The Gnome Desktop Manager itself provides you with global keybindings to change the font size and/or the colour scheme on the fly. Finally, Brltty provides Grade 1/2 Braille output via the Orca screen-reader. By default all of the screen-readers use the same Espeak Speech Synthesizer via Speech-Dispatcher which provides a seamless experience for the user when switching from one screen-reader to another!
Vinux Build Scripts - http://sourceforge.net/projects/vinuxscripts
Vinux Community Wiki - http://wiki.vinuxvirtual.org.uk/
Vinux Development Group - http://groups.google.co.uk/group/vinux-development
Vinux Development Blog - http://vinux-development.blogspot.com
Vinux Documentation - http://sourceforge.net/projects/vinux-docs
Vinux IRC Chat Channel - #vinux at irc.blufudge.net
Vinux Lucid Repository - https://launchpad.net/~vinux/+archive/vinux-lucid
Vinux Lucid-Testing Repository - https://launchpad.net/~vinux/+archive/vinux-lucid-testing
Vinux Maverick Repository - https://launchpad.net/~vinux/+archive/maverick
Vinux Support Group - http://groups.google.co.uk/group/vinux-support
Vinux Virtual Edition - http://vinuxvirtual.org.uk
Vinux is primarily aimed at blind and partially sighted users, but it may also be of use to people who have learning difficulties and could benefit from having large print and a screen-reader to read out the text for them.
Our mission (should we choose to accept it - this web-page will self-destruct in 10 seconds!) is to produce a version of Ubuntu that is accessible to all users out of the box, no matter what their disability. Our primary focus is on visual impairment, as this provides the biggest barrier to accessibility, but we would like to cater for other disabilities as well. In terms of visual impairment this means that the system must start talking automatically as soon as it boots, with magnification available with a simple keyboard shortcut. A beginner should not have to do any configuration initially in order to make the system accessible. They should also be able to install and configure the system without sighted assistance.
Our goal is to try to produce a Vinux version of each release of Ubuntu as they are released, however our ultimate goal is to make the Vinux project obsolete by having our accessibility settings incorporated into the official Ubuntu release, such that a visually impaired user new to Linux can boot from a live CD and install the system without having to do any configuration or sighted assistance. Whether this is possible, or will require a special edition of Ubuntu for disabled users (a perfectly acceptable solution in my opinion) I do not know. But if this ever happens like in fairy tales, we can all retire and live happily ever after!
We are already working with Luke Yelavich a member of the Ubuntu development team specialising in accessibility issues, and we hope to have a more formal relationship with Ubuntu in the future.