Monday, September 21, 2009

Emacspeak, The World's Fonts And Braille

Emacspeak has supported the editing of Unicode text for over a year now --- thanks to the patches fromLukas. With the support now mature, I have now retired option emacspeak-unibyte --- Emacspeak no longer supports running Emacs in unibyte mode. Note that this aligns Emacspeak with Emacs 23.2 which obsoletes unibyte mode.

When you edit text containing Unicode characters, Emacspeak uses the name of the character as found in the description file from the Unicode consortium --- you will need to download and install that data file as documented in Emacs:

describe-char-unicodedata-file is a variable defined in `descr-text.el'.
Its value is 

Location of Unicode data file.
This is the UnicodeData.txt file from the Unicode Consortium, used for
diagnostics.  If it is non-nil `describe-char' will print data
looked up from it.  This facility is mostly of use to people doing
multilingual development.

This is a fairly large file, not typically present on GNU systems.
At the time of writing it is at the URL

You can customize this variable.

This variable was introduced, or its default value was changed, in
version 22.1 of Emacs.

With the Unicode data file in place, Emacspeak can announce names of characters from all of the world's fonts --- this includes Braille. As an added convenience, I have integrated package toy-braille.el found on the Emacs wiki into the Emacs codebase and defined a new interactive command emacspeak-wizards-braille --- if you find yourself using it often, you can bind it to a key of your choice. Command emacspeak-wizards-braille prompts for the string to Braille and produces a Grade-1 representation of the specified string using the appropriate Unicode characters.