Speakup started out as my attempt to make GNU/Linux accessible to myself mostly, with a speech synthesizer. My fave synth is the DoubleTalk-PC so that's what I concentrated on. Once I had a very basic system running I decided to let a couple other people use it to see if it was worth while making available to the general public. The response from those folks was overwhelming and very gratifying. Of course, they all had their own ideas what they'd like to see speakup be able to do. Well, that's history as they say.
As with most projects, it started to snowball (that's what I get for living in Canada) and speakup grew and a number of other projects were identified as being needed for a truly accessible system. We have a long way to go before one could say that the blind community is on a "level playing field", but we're working toward it. My ultimate goal is to make the computer accessible with speech from power up to shut down.
Here is our current list of projects which we have underway or identified. There is a short paragraph on each and a link to a subsequent page giving the current status of that project.
Speakup, originally written by Kirk Reiser and Andy Berdan, is a screen review package for the Linux operating system. Speakup allows you to interact with applications and the os with audible feedback from the console using a synthetic speech device.
Speak Freely, originally written by John Walker with modifications and enhancements by Jim Danley and Kirk Reiser. Speak Freely is a realtime text and audio IRC type program for the Linux, Unix and Windows platforms. Follow these links to visit the home page for the Unix version or the home page for the Windows version. Speak Freely allows one on one and round-robin style forums. Speak Freely is being enhanced by members of the Speakup community and is available from cvs.
socrates, is a text based OCR scanning and reading system. It will eventually support multiple OCR engines.
Listenup, the national libraries services of the government of the United States and the daisy consortium have been developing standards for a new digital talking book format. A number of organizations around the world are developing commercial devices and software packages for the windows platform. This project is to develop a GNU project for linux.
As you can see, there are many worthwhile projects going on in the speakup community. This is not an exhaustive list either. We should probably set up a project to write a java script interpreter for lynx and/or elinks. It doesn't appear that anyone else is doing it and it becomes more necessary everyday. The X-windows interface now has a screen review system coming along named Orca. You can have a look at it at http://live.gnome.org/Orca. It is also available as part of the standard gnome desktop environment.
If you would like to help see some of these projects come to fruition, please check out our developer page and get involved. We always have more projects than dedicated helping hands.