WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: is there a modern Linux screen reader?


From: _mallory
Date: Apr 30, 2015 12:40AM

On Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 02:07:40PM -0400, Mike Warner wrote:
> Hello,
> half of my dev team uses Linux, and I'm making them get more active in
> testing for accessibility. They do keep accessibility in mind when coding,
> but they don't have the means to test with a screen reader. Can anyone
> recommend a good one that runs on Linux? I've seen references to Orca, but
> it's no longer maintained and the last release was some time ago.

Orca is maintained, and has a lively group of users who also give
feedback and help with testing via the Orca mailing list.
You can always get the latest Orca master at github, but be sure
you have the latest Gnome when you do that. I'm running Trusty and
I'm already a bit behind latest.

Documentation does lag though, you really want to go through
the mailing list archives to figure out where to get started as
Orca's old way of starting up with a dialog has changed.

Keep in mind that Orca is very very very dependent on how Gnome
works and Gnome accessibility. Same goes for Gecko-based
applications (FF, Thunderbird). Webkit-based apps work now as well.
You really want to run Orca no older than 3.4.2 and that
is not the latest-- before the Gnome 3 versions Orca was at times
almost unusable.

Anything running GTK should work fine, stuff running Qt4 will suck
and Qt5 promised some a11y stuff but nobody's seen working stuff

MATE is another windowing env that supports Orca, people say it has
good accessibility. Vinux is an Ubuntu-based Linux which, on the plus,
will install and come up talking and have everything "on", but on the
bad side, tends to be behind current Ubuntu releases. Sonar (I'm not
really sure what that's based on) might be even better for your testers
as it comes with, in addition to Orca, a screen magnifier (very
important to test) and it has something that, if the computer has a
webcam, is supposed to allow people to move the mouse cursor with
their head movements, which sounds cool but I have no idea how well
it works.