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Thread: Looking for an accessible version of Linux due to arm/hand issues

  1. #11
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    May 2011
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    Re: Looking for an accessible version of Linux due to arm/hand issues

    I installed KDE, and managed to log into it, but can't figure out how to use it.

    1. It keeps resetting to full screen brightness and full sound volume. I have a light sensitivity and it hurts my eyes until I reset things to minimum screen brightness. [and on some machines, I have to put a sheet of paper in front to soak up the excess brightness].

    2. It hides my files. I couldn't find an easy way to open a file browser, or anything I could add to the panel to open a file browser. I can't rely on search, both because of my injuries and because if my arms heal I'm planning to sort out some things between two computers [one old, one not-as-old] with three different operating systems.

  2. #12
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    May 2011
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    Which desktops and which distros are accessible for users with arm and hand injuries?

    I am still using Gnome 2 in Ubuntu 11.04, but it leaves my arms aching. I have been able to patch the touchpad, to restore the scrollbars, and to reset the scrollbars so they are wide enough to use. Unfortunately, I understand that fixing the scrollbars can break newer versions of Ubuntu, and I know that using older versions will break the touchpad patch, so I can't back up to 10.04 LTS.

    I have tried Unity. Couldn't use it.

    I have tried KDE. Either it doesn't have touchpad support, or it doesn't work with the touchpad patch, so I need to use the mouse and keep away from the keyboard or everything goes haywire. It has other accessibility issues, involving the brightness settings and the narrow scrollbars, that I haven't been able to fix.

    I have tried XFCE. Again either it doesn't have touchpad support, or it doesn't work with the touchpad patch, so I need to use the mouse and keep away from the keyboard or everything goes haywire.

    I have always been too clumsy, even before these injuries, to use ergonomic keyboards, touchpad tapping/gestures, touch screens, styli too small to hold, trackballs, and mouse settings that start them clicking randomly.

  3. #13
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    Mar 2009
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    Re: Which desktops and which distros are accessible for users with arm and hand injur

    Are you a keyboard shortcut kind of guy or a mouse kind of guy, given the choice? And by touchpad are you talking about the pointing device found on laptops or are you talking about a drawing tablet of some sort?

    I don't know if any touchpad support is available, but if you aren't afraid of an old-school type interface you could try out fvwm.

    The reason I mention it is because you can configure the window and menu behavior in much finer detail than you can in any other window manager I've used. That's the good part. The bad part is you HAVE to do all that.

    I haven't used it in years, but I've been looking at it again as I am not really happy with the current batch of WMs. I've been using XFCE as a stopgap to my sanity.

    If you're into keyboard shortcuts, then just about any behavior can be mapped to a shortcut. The window border width can be chosen from zero (nothing visible, you need a keyboard modifier to be able to resize) to any size I ever imagined. You can map center-click on the mouse to ALWAYS pop up your application menu if you like, and the list goes on.

    If you want a button for each app, then that's a frequent thing for FVWM, and you can make the buttons any size or location on your screen. If you want a single shortcut to open 27 different applications on 6 different virtual desktops and have the windows open up in specific places with specific dimensions, then FVWM is your baby.

    Better yet, you can get on the fvwm forum and grab somebody's config file to get a place to start that's close to what you want, and modify from there. I'm sure somebody there can also help with touchpad support information.

    Note that FVWM is NOT a desktop environment. It's a window manager. It's meant to work with a bunch of other tools which, used together, can approximate a desktop environment. Fvwm also uses a text file for configuration, and so you're going to spend quite a bit of time editing that to make it work to your satisfaction. If this is not your thing, then you want to look elsewhere.
    Help stamp out MBR partition tables. Use GPT instead!

  4. #14
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    Re: Which desktops and which distros are accessible for users with arm and hand injur

    Personally, neither keyboard nor mouse nor built-in touchpad works for me. All three require me to twist my elbow and wrist, and at times it can be quite painful. A joystick often works better for me, but it lacks the point control of the mouse.

    Thanks for the advice. I'll look into it, although I'm not that skilled with any system.

  5. #15
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    Re: Which desktops and which distros are accessible for users with arm and hand injur

    I use a Kinesis Freestyle keyboard. It's a fully split keyboard with the halves connected by a cord. It's also fairly compact. There are different options to allow for hand positioning, from slightly tented to completely vertical, and you can adjust the halves completely independently.

    You can also, if you order from Kinesis directly, get a super long cord connecting the two. Normal sites have either a short tether of about 6" or a "wide" one of 24" or so, but I got one that's on the order of 6 feet of separation.

    The keyboard has a set of lugs on the bottom to screw on their attachments for tenting, but you can custom-make your own if you like. So you could mount the halves on the arms of your chair, or lay flat on your bed with one keyboard half on each side, each oriented according to your needs. I made an under-the-chair mount that lets my hands hang straight down, but that turned out to be not so great for a long-term session.

    You could also use an external track pad or tablet as a pointing device, assuming you can get drivers for it. The keyboard is just a keyboard, no special configuration. Works fine on Linux.

    The problem is with $$$. Any keyboard or mouse made for extreme ergonomics is going to cost you a three digit number of USD. And you'll have to order it.

    I don't have your control issues or an injury of any sort, but I've given a lot of thought and effort to ergonomics. Get technical, I'm into it. Unfortunately though I don't have much track pad experience with Linux.

    http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/
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  6. #16
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    Re: Which desktops and which distros are accessible for users with arm and hand injur

    Thanks. I hope it helps someone. I personally can type right-handed, and slowly type left-handed, but not type both-handed. For me, the best option might be a Gnome 2 style desktop environment with bigger buttons, wider scrollbars, and fewer nested menus, and good input device support.

  7. #17
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    Mar 2009
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    Re: Which desktops and which distros are accessible for users with arm and hand injur

    Have you looked into the dvorak keyboard layout for the left hand?

    It rearranges the keys (software-wise, not physically) so that the most common letters are easy for you to get at. Even if you use mostly a pointing device, it may be worth your time to mess with a keyboard that's easier for you.

    Good luck and have fun.
    Help stamp out MBR partition tables. Use GPT instead!

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Looking for an accessible version of Linux due to arm/hand issues

    Merged.

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