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Re: Footnote Call Was: New Java-based software speech synthesizer available



Here's my contribution to the discussion about Open Source software
and people with learning difficulties. I think it's important.  


My own position is that I am visually impaired enough to be unable to
read or drive, working as a physiotherapist (physical therapist) in
New Zealand.      

My association with computers began with Windows and Jaws, which was
basically a series of frustrations both for me and the people trying
to keep the system working.  My son, who is vastly more
computer-literate than I am, set up Emacspeak for me a couple of years
ago.  Linux, Emacs, and Emacspeak are incomparably better than the
windows/Jaws set-up because:

-they are stable: once something works, it continues to work
- the whole thing is text-based: we are not continually hanging off
-the coat-tails of visual methods, and trying to find convoluted ways
-round problems which should not exist
- It is more useful, supplies more information, and creates a coherent
-sound-world, instead of a distorted interpretation of a visual
-world. 
-It is free, unless one counts the time and effort of learning.   

  
Now, I hope the last statement doesn't raise the hackles of other
listers, because that is the subject I wish to write about.  Why do
people write open-source software?  Eric S. Raymond's articles http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/x340.html   
are interesting.  Obviously, the motive can't be financial, unless for
some it's the hope of their work being noticed, eventually leading to
financial gain.  But for most, the motivation must lie elsewhere.  

Now, so far as I can see, most of the development is done in the spare
time of people working in the computer industry.  The likes of me,
even if I had the ability, if I put in the time to learn enough
programming skills, I'd have no time left to keep up with my physio
work.  And the percentage of people with the capability and means of
developing software must be very small, compared to the number of
people to whom this software is of enormous use.  So is Linux, and
Emacspeak to be a club confined to those with programming skills?  Or,
since the motive for developing open-source software isn't financial,
why not welcome the fact that people who can't contribute can
nevertheless benefit?  Or, even better, some people with the necessary
skills might find satisfaction in solving some of Jonathan's clients'
problems.          
      






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