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Re: Need to talk with a few emacspeak users



I also am probably not the best person to answer your query, as I
have some technical background, but I would like to offer some
observations.

If your concern is that the user needs to learn a lot of Unix
specific terms/commands to say, use a web browser (you mention w3)
this is not the case.  Emacs by its nature is very customizable, any
key or combination of keys can be re-mapped, commands can be tied to
keys or events.  It is very easy to set up the number pad to work
like the pad on a Kertzwell (sorry about the spelling) reader, or to
take a game pad and put all the functions you need to surf on it.  I
know, I use a game pad to surf and read e-text with emacspeak and
Raman will tell you, I have almost no grasp of emacs-lisp! 

Certainly as the user progresses and wants to do more emacs is
sophisticated enough to let them do almost anything, but at the same
time, it can be set up simplisticly, even going as far as unbinding
commands from keys so they are not hit accidently.

I have been involved in teaching sighted students, new to Unix, about
Unix and emacs here at Vassar.  Most find after a little practice
they have it doing what they want.  I don't see why the "average
blind person who is not technically oriented but who needs to use a
computer at work" should be any different. 

Now if their work environment is windows NT and you are talking about
them being the only person with Unix box that is a different story.
I would not think it a good idea to drop a linux box on someone and
say "here is your solution, you just need to learn to be a sysop on an
operating system you have never used to make it work."  That would be
a recipe for frustration. 

What I am saying is that what would make or break a learning situation
could be the support staff/teachers.  If there is someone on tap that
the new user can write/call to help them over the initial phases of
learning, they will find that learning emacs is no more complex, and a
lot more rewording than say, memorizing tinytalk commands (yes, I
still use tinytalk under dos...).  Many have learned it on their own,
but if your concern is folks without much computer savy and perhaps
some computer frustration then the answer is support staff irrespective
of the technology used.

When you yourself are new to Unix, emacs and emacspeak, it is not the
time to try to teach others - give yourself some time to get
comfortable with the system or your students/users will just pick up
on your frustration - send questions to me if you need to, then, when
you see just how much you are able to get done, how easy it is to
mechanize repetitive tasks, add macros, work with 7 or 8 files and
directories open, keep track of appointments, expand abbreviations,
undo mistakes... well you get the idea.  Then you can help other learn
the system as well.

At the same time I do not think that ANY one solution should be
expected to work for everybody, but I do think that emacs & emacspeak
are a great combination that offers a lot of flexibility and maximum
user customization.

Hope this helps,

Greg Priest-Dorman