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To: Members of the NFb R&D Committee
From: Curtis Chong
USIDS002 AT IBMMAIL
Subject: Talking X Terminal
Greetings and felicitations:
I have looked over Mr. Buhrow's proposal to develop a talking X
terminal, and I am intrigued by the potential that this
represents for blind people to finally achieve access to the full
suite of Unix applications.
Most people are aware that access to some Unix platforms can be
achieved by connecting a PC emulating a terminal to the Unix box
through the serial port. To the best of my knowledge, we have
not been able to achieve access to Unix via Ethernet.
The question I get asked most frequently has to do with ultimate
access to X Windows. As I understand it, this is essentially a
graphical interface, and therefore, the same problems attendant
with access to Windows would apply here. I hope that our project
will enable some solution to emerge in this regard.
I recall some efforts made by Curtis Willoughby to develop a
talking Unix machine. If memory serves, the thing used a Type 'n
Talk speech synthesizer. It seemed to work OK for text-based
As we forge ahead, I would not like us to lose sight of the
tremendous strides that have already been made in the DOS world.
If the use of a talking X terminal catches on, how would a blind
person run this plus other DOS applications that have already
been proven useful on the job? Is it possible to develop a
mechanism to switch between the X terminal software and DOS?
Also, are we proposing to develop a fully functional screen
reading system with all of the pitfalls that might entail? Many
of us will remember the Speaqualizer and the revolutionary jump
it represented at the time of its origins. Today, of course, it
has been far surpassed by other screen reading systems. Can we
ensure that this will not happen to the talking x terminal we
I say, let's go for it, bearing in mind the warnings I have
stated above. Unix is certainly here to stay, and it would
appear that Unix is catching on in the corporate arena.
Cordially, Curtis Chong (CURTC)
Communication Software Support Group (CSSG)
IDS Financial Services
Phone: (612) 671-2185 Routing: OP4/591
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