Distros for the visually impaired

Jeffrey Lapinski

Active Member
May 13, 2018
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Hello All,

I have a friend who is "legally blind" although he is not totally blind and has some vision. I am trying to help him find a Linux distro. A quick search yielded a few hits on Linux for visually impaired but most are quite a few years old. Does anyone know of current projects/distros that are made for people with visual impairments?

Thank you! It looks like there were a few projects in the past, most seem to be discontinued.
In amongst the searches as recommended by @arochester is Vinux, which I have used for closer to 4 years than not.

Based in Britain originally, its CEO for the last 3 years has been one Rob Whyte of Tasmania, the southern isle off Australia.

Vinux has the advantage of being able to choose from 3 DEs at login - Unity, GNOME and MATE, for comparatives to the sight-challenged.

Some of the choices of Distros (Vinux included) will ship with the Orca Screenreader enabled which can be annoying but can be switched off.

Sonar was a good one, but is now discontinued.

BTW Vinux is based on Ubuntu's 14.04 'Trusty Tahr', which means a lot of updates initially, and I am not aware of Rob's plans for after April 2019 when 14.04 has its EOL (end of life).

WHile this does not suggest a vision impaired friendly Linux distro......it does perhaps offer a way forward for those with this ailment...albeit with the help of Wine or bottles etc etc...I believe there are others..

It is only supported for windows version from win 7 and above..... Hopefully, wine etc etc will bridge the gap....or maybe just run it on the windows side of a dual boot ?
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Some effort was put in the Ubuntu-MATE numerous cycles ago, with effort being made to ensure it would install & be made operational by someone with low visibility, but particularly operational. I believe from feedback they got it done pretty well.

I'm aware problems appeared with the installer over time, and it dropped in priority as it wasn't seen as critical to most their user base, but in the Ubuntu world they did make a pretty decent effort.

I'll provide https://guide.ubuntu-mate.org/#applications-accessibility which may have some clues as turning the features on (they aren't on by default & haven't been for some time though I do recall ISOs being created were they were default).

I'll also provide https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Accessibility which will concentrate largely on Ubuntu Desktop, but sorry I have little knowledge in that area, and mostly recall some QA of Ubuntu-MATE where I used a laptop that didn't have a working screen (it showed colors but text was unreadable) given I'm sighted (then verified the results by using an external screen which of course worked!). I was impressed with the Ubuntu-MATE achievements (when I looked which was a long time ago now) but performing some brief testing & using it full time is very very different I'm sure. I fear the Ubuntu-MATE isn't as good as for installs as it was when I tested (here I'm going by bug reports I read and not any experience) but I could be wrong.

(Whilst likely obvious; please also note my experiences will differ given I wasn't learning the Ubuntu/Ubuntu-MATE system, could see the keyboard correctly & if I got stuck; I could always turn on the mirrored display that did work... thus my experiences may be of no value... But what I saw did impress me as a sighted person trying to simulate poor site with a laptop with broken screen)
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Another helpful distro would be Devuan Minimal Live, it can be used by the visually impaired/blind as it was built for the purpose.

minimal-live (~460 MB): A full-featured, console-based recovery tool with a focus on accessibility for visually-impaired and blind users. Uses the refractainstaller.


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