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Clean text for the blind

06 Jul 99 - 09:22 AM (#92832)
Subject: Clean text for the blind
From: Legal Eagle

A blind friend of mine commented the other day that they facility which causes so much aggro here at the mudcat - (namely that lots of line breaks, line spaces, paragraph commands and other format-related bits and odds get stripped out of our messages when the system puts them up) would be very handy for people who need to use a computer braille reader. He can scan text (or read computer documents) to a braille embosser, and then read the output. But all the spaces are a waste of time and paper for him. Oh yes, he's a computer programmer.

So can anyone tell me what the engine is that takes all the spaces out of our postings, and where he can get it?

06 Jul 99 - 09:39 AM (#92837)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: alison

There was a mudcatter called teresa, who used to post here, (although I haven't seen her for a while) who is blind. I'm not sure what program she used but she could chat with me on ICQ too, as well as read the threads. Maybe if you drop her a personal message she'll be able to help.



06 Jul 99 - 10:21 AM (#92856)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Jeri

LE, if (in MSIE) I click on "file" and "save as," I can select the file type of "text file." This appears to remove HTML tags. (Somehow, this sounds too simple.)

06 Jul 99 - 11:54 AM (#92873)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Legal Eagle

No, what I mean is the engine which removes line breaks from songs when we type them in and turns them into unpunctuated messes. It's exactly what the blind need to clean all those silly spaces out of text (quite unnecessary, only helpful to the visually handicapped, by which in context I mean the fully sighted) before feeding it to a braille reader and embosser.

06 Jul 99 - 12:28 PM (#92880)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Tony Burns

The program that 'creates' the 'unpunctuated messes' is your web browser. If the <br> tags aren't included then the HTML interpreter (your browser) keeps putting text on the same line until it reaches the width the particular window allows.

If your friend has a program that translates text to braille and it is not configurable to remove whitespace I suggest he get a new program. The coding to ignore specific text, blanks or html tags is trivial compared to the other things such a program would have to consider.

IBM has a Special Needs Department that deals with these kind of issues. Their homepage is at

For additional information call IBM Special Needs Systems:
(800) 426-4832 (Voice)
(800) 426-4833 (TDD)
or send email to:

06 Jul 99 - 12:34 PM (#92884)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Legal Eagle

Thanks Tony but I am unclear how that can be. If I prepare text offline in, say, Word, it contains format instructions. When that text is displayed here, it is not formatted as it was. The instructions have either been deleted or are ignored. However I will pass on what you say.

06 Jul 99 - 12:59 PM (#92891)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Tony Burns

In the case of using Word the formatting instructions are understood by Word and stripped off when Word takes that data and presents it on your screen. When you do a cut and paste all you get is the text from the screen. Pasting it to Mudcat is no different than typing it in by hand.

The basic difference is that word processors use a different methodology for formatting than browsers do. Browsers use tagging to tell the browser when to bold, italisize, center,etc. (Different browsers are free to present tagged info any way they want.) The benefit of the tagged method is that there is a standard and therefore any browser can be coded to present the text in the format prescribed by the tags.

Each word processor has it's own standard. That's why it is difficult (impossible) for one word processor to display a document created in another word processor. Heck, sometimes different versions of the same word processor have the same problem.

06 Jul 99 - 01:06 PM (#92892)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: SeanM

LE... It's because Word and HTML are two different animals. It's kinda hard to explain....

The line breaks and everything else that vanishes from your word docs are in one format... Mudcat doesn't recognize the format, and therefore doesn't worry about printing it. Text is pretty much universal in computers, so that gets through.

The line breaks, italics, bold typing and all the other non-plain text effects you see around here are a result of HTML coding that the poster inserts while entering the post. There's a great thread on all the fun stuff you can do with HTML floating around right now, but I'm too lazy at the moment to drag it up and link it.

Hope that helps...


07 Jul 99 - 02:00 AM (#93028)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Bob Bolton

G'day Legal Eagle,

I save the text content from Mulga Wire, the magazine of the Bush Music Club, here in Sydney, to a plain text file (~.TXT) after the magazine is published. this is so that it can be read by one of our members - a keen dancer, a lawyer ... and totally blind!

I usually publish the magazine in MS Publisher and it takes a lot of fiddling to get the text back into a single, sequential file because of the "Text Box" structure of Publisher, but I presume that all the formatting, other than spaces between words is stripped away. If I wanted to retain any of this formatting, I would save as in Rich Text Format (RTF).

Of course, you can always use a "Search and Replace" function to remove anything else you wish from the text. When re-formatting text lifted from an email or similar source, I routinely run replacements of double spaces, double line breaks &c and I suspect all of that could be set up in a couple of simple macros to reduce text to any desired formatting (or lack of it).


Bob Bolton

07 Jul 99 - 10:07 AM (#93076)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Jeri

I'm not sure exactly what you want, but that's never stopped me from trying to help. (I'll shut up after this.)
1) I did a song search for "Sail Away Ladies."
2) I saved it as a ".txt" file
3) I renamed it as an ".htm" file
4) I double-clicked on it in Explorer
It looks like this in MSIE:

Search for the song title SAIL AWAY, LADIES at: CDNOW or Music Blvd or CD Universe - Spree or keyword search at: AMAZON (music) or Barnes and Noble (books) (a percentage of proceeds go to support the Mudcat and Digitrad) SAIL AWAY, LADIES Ain't no use to sit and cry Sail away, ladies, sail away. You'll be an angel by an' by, Sail away, ladies, sail away, cho: Don't you rock 'im die-dy-0, Don't you rock 'im die-dy-0, Don't you rock 'im die-dy-0, Don't you rock 'im die-dy-0. I've got a home in Tennessee, That's the place I wanna be, If ever I get my new house done, I'll give the old one to my son, Come along, boys, and go witb me, We'll go down to Tennessee, Ever I get my new house done, Love you, pretty girls, one by one. Hush, little baby, don't you cry, You'll be an angel by and by. Recorded by Uncle Dave Macon @banjo filename[ SAILLADI CLICK HERE TO PLAY RG PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted c. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.

11 Jul 99 - 02:42 PM (#94145)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Teresa

Hi, All, Well, let's see. I'm totally blind, and I use Windows 98 and a Braille Lite 40 display. I also use the JFW screen reader. I can read all of the HTML formatting perfectly well with Internet Explorer 5. I don't find any formatting commands or spacing problems in the Mudcat posts. Also, I write my messages in the Outlook Express email program, or any other editor, and then paste them into the message box. If I should ever be brave enough to post lyrics, I know I could insert an HTML line-break after each line. The only circumstance in which I see formatting is when I view the source of an HTML document. I'm wondering if this happens with a text-based browser like Lynx? My introduction to the Internet is through Windows, and I don't have a lot of experience with text-based software--not even DOS is as familiar to me as Windows. If Legal Eagle, the blind friend, or anyone else would like to contact me, you can at Take care, Teresa

11 Jul 99 - 06:33 PM (#94187)
Subject: RE: Clean text for the blind
From: Legal Eagle

I'm saving the thread to disc and I'll give it to Clive at he club tomorrow. Thanks, all.