If you study or work in any STEM related field, it's more than likely that sooner or later you will have to face the Shell, let it be any operating system you prefer to use for computing purposes. Using the command line to manipulate the operations managed by the computer can be very powerful, but also very puzzling at first. It's nothing like clicking buttons on a GUI, there is no multiple choice interface for you to browse and select from even if you just benefit from TTS and not the visual layout. In a shell, you either know what command to issue, or you don't. Until recently, in my case it was the latter… Not only the lack of knowledge, but also the inability to scroll between lines, check words one by one, or spell them using a screen reader can be aggravating. However, taking a tour in the Bash world, now I can see the merit of it.

An already published blog post on AppleVis gives a great overview of why using a console, or terminal could be challenging for screen reader users, what the various OS and TTS combinations can, or could offer as a solution; but we thought it's worth revisiting the topic. This NanoTip introduces TDSR, spreading the word, and recaps why it is useful.

If you are a Mac or Linux user, you will find that using Apple’s built in Voice Over for instance, requesting a ‘man’ page, your synthetic friend will read out everything in one go, but good luck capturing the list of options, instructions to be used. Of course one could write the output into a file using the (>) or (>>) commands, but there are issues with that too. Instead you might wish to try the “Two Day Screen Reader” freely available from its GitHub page.

TDSR is a “Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco” funded project, released not long ago. It is a great tool to help you navigate in the Mac OS terminal, easy to follow documentation, configuration setup, and installation process. Yet again checkout the project’s GitHub page, and you’ll find all you need to use the shell more conveniently with a screen reader, let it be a physics related task or server management even on Mac.

NanoTip – Command line screen reader for the VI geeks

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