2. Introduction

2.1. What is Emacspeak?

Many users are familiar with Emacs as a text editor and have used it extensively in that capacity. But Emacs is not just a text editor -- it is actually a desktop, in some ways like the graphical desktops that many use today. As a desktop, Emacs comes with all kinds of built-in functions, much like the Windows ™ desktop, including an e-mail application, calendar/appointment program, cd-player, games, and more. And like Windows ™, there are many additional applications that you can download and add to Emacs that expand its functionality -- web browsers, the LaTeX text editor, mp3 players, and others. Unlike Windows, all of these powerful tools are under the GPL (Gnu Public License), so you can use them free of charge.

For visually impaired users, adding Emacspeak to Emacs might be compared to adding Jaws to Windows, except that instead of simply reading the screen to you as a standard "screenreader" might do, Emacspeak treats speech as first-class output. Because Emacspeak interacts directly with Emacs instead of just being an add-on, it provides much more context-specific information about what is going on than a typical screenreader would. In addition, there are many special commands just for Emacspeak that enhance interaction with a variety of Emacs applications.

2.2. About this tutorial

Because Emacs and Emacspeak are unlike any environments you may have used before, it helps to know a little bit about how they work. This tutorial assumes that you have either used and are familiar with Emacs and Emacspeak or that you have completed some of the Emacs and Emacspeak tutorials. For a list of recommended tutorials, please refer to Section 3.1.

This tutorial is organized by task and sub-task. For example, the Internet section contains sub-sections on browsing the Internet, using email, chatting online, and other tasks. The File Manipulation section contains information on downloading and installing files, finding files, etc. For a complete listing of the available tasks, refer to the table of contents.

Within this tutorial, you will find references to a number of Emacspeak-enabled applications, some that are included within the Emacs application, and some that are add-ons and must be downloaded. Please note that the applications listed in this tutorial should not be considered a complete collection of applications but only a small subset. The complete list of Emacspeak-enabled applications is available at http://emacspeak.sourceforge.net/applications.html.