I realise this is very motherboard specific, but has anyone had any luck with modifying bios settings from a running OS before? As a blind individual who needs a screen reader, not being able to access the bios is very annoying, requiring sighted assistance.

@TheFake_VIP if you have access to a second device, I would be willing to sit with you on a video call and direct you through the menu options in your BIOS

Integrating a screen reader with coreboot is probably feasible. Serves to highlight the importance of FOSS firmware


@sir That's very kind of you, but I'll manage with someone in my household, it's no huge deal. I've often wondered ... dreamed of integrating a screen reader into CoreBoot. Someone wrote a text about this a while back, but apart from there's absolutely no research into, or implementation of this. arxiv.org/pdf/1712.03186.pdf

@TheFake_VIP the main problem I foresee with this is that the BIOS PC speaker is not great for sythesizing voice, so coreboot (or more realistically, SeaBIOS) would have to grow actual audio drivers, which would bloat it substantially. But coreboot-based BIOSes could also likely become more configurable by userspace.

Semi-off-topic, but I did write a patch a while ago for syslinux which added beeping support, so you could add a tone on boot, plus a unique tone for each menu entry, and a tone when it passes off to the kernel, but it hasn't been upstreamed yet.


@sir I suppose another, allbeit less convenient option would be to interface with the bios over a serial console using a terminal emulator on a system with a running screen reader. The idea of generating tones is interesting, especially for common, fairly basic settings.

@TheFake_VIP perhaps a set of tones for interacting with the BIOS could be paired with a braille book mapping tones to functionality

That would be pretty straightforward to implement

@sir That would be fantastic actually. I'd never put 2 and 2 together to realise most braille displays can be configured to run over serial, or do so by default. That would work a treat! At least for those of us with braille displays.

@sir Failing that, yes a manual would definitely be needed to understand the tones, but it's better than what we have right now.

@TheFake_VIP sounds like it'd be good to have both

The refreshable braille display would definitely work over serial, but they're expensive and not everyone has them, especially among the younger blind community

Book would be a nice fallback option, but the braille display over serial sounds like a perfect solution!

@sir Absolutely. I should open an issue about this, see if anyone is interested in implementing it. It will be a little more complicated than writing a single driver for the braille display, given that from what I know, there is no universally adopted standard for braille output (though I could be wrong) and things could get messy with i18n due to the various braille tables, but still, it would be greatfor the blind/VI community and would create yet another reason to use open firmware.

@TheFake_VIP I would love to see open firmware for refreshable braille displays come into being so that we could MAKE that standard exist, and increase the freedom of the devices you rely on

@TheFake_VIP I have an ALVA 544, maybe I should try reverse engineering it

@sir If BRLTTY supports it (it probably does), or if it works with NVDA, those are probably good starting points.

@sir For the BrailleNote family of note-takers that I'm quite familiar with, the latest two devices run Android, and the legacy models run ... shock horror! Windows CE! I imagine the dumber displays that are intended to only be used with a host device either run some form of embedded Linux, or in some cases may be so simple as to run there own custom firmware,

@sir but I've certainly never seen any OSI approved licenses for any of the software on these things. Shame, really, seeing as the companies lose nothing in open-sourcing their technology, given that you need the device itself to run it anyway.

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