Orca: A screen reader sailing into uncharted waters

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Orca, the screen reader of the GNOME Desktop, is moving into previously-uncharted territory: giving computer users who are blind -- and the developers of the assistive technologies they use -- a single tool which is more tightly integrated within the platform and designed to access multiple desktop environments, including KDE.

Orca, the screen reader of the GNOME Desktop, is moving into previously-uncharted territory: giving computer users who are blind -- and the developers of the assistive technologies they use -- a single tool which is more tightly integrated within the platform and designed to access multiple desktop environments, including KDE.

This session will take a brief look back at the history of Orca and screenreaders in general and bring audience up to speed on screen reading technologies. With this foundation laid, the current and future development of Orca will be presented, including the team’s efforts to further eliminate access barriers for people with visual impairments.

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Orca: A screen reader sailing into uncharted waters

  1. Orca A screen reader sailing into uncharted waters FOSDEM 2011 Alejandro Leiva <aleiva@emergya.es>
  2. Screen readers 101
  3. Screen Readers <ul><li>Present screen contents </li><ul><li>To users who are blind or visually impaired
  4. As they navigate using the application's commands
  5. In speech and refreshable braille </li></ul><li>Provide commands for more efficient access </li><ul><li>Review chat messages
  6. Element navigation
  7. Font/Formatting information
  8. Screen find, etc... </li></ul></ul>
  9. Old days: “Screen Scraping” <ul><li>Attempt to implement a imaginator
  10. Employ “tricks”
  11. At best : somewhat unreliable
  12. At worst : unusuable
  13. BUT no dependence upon applications and toolkits doing the RightThing </li></ul>
  14. Today: Accessibility APIs <ul><li>No scraping or tricks
  15. Direct communication with applications/toolkits
  16. At best: very reliable
  17. At worst: noticeably slower
  18. BUT depends 100% upon applications and toolkits doing the RightThing </li></ul>
  19. Welcome to Orca
  20. What is Orca <ul><li>It is a mammal and not a fish
  21. It is a screen reader for AT-SPI/Atk-ready desktops
  22. It is an open-source project under the GNOME umbrella
  23. It is a project with an impressive user base </li></ul>
  24. A brief history of Orca <ul><li>Started in 2004 by Sun Microsystems
  25. Official screen reader of GNOME in 2007
  26. Always community-focused
  27. Now community-run </li></ul>
  28. Orca from 10000 feet <ul><li>Presents screen content in speech and braille
  29. Tracks the caret and focus via AT-SPI events
  30. Provides a way to spatially review screen contents
  31. Provides customized and customizable handling through applications and toolkits scripts </li></ul>
  32. Orca has “other duties as assigned” <ul><li>Compensate, often heuristically, for issues in: </li><ul><li>Application and/or toolkit implementations of Atk
  33. User interfaces which are not 100% accessible </li></ul><li>Provide magnification support
  34. Provide support for users with learning disabilities
  35. Provide access to other desktop environments </li></ul>
  36. Lessons Learned <ul><li>ATs often are unfunded mandates.
  37. It is hard to “keep up” with external changes.
  38. We cannot be a “one size fits all” solution.
  39. Contributing to Orca needs to be easier. </li></ul>
  40. What We're Planning To Do About It
  41. We have a plan ! (Make Orca truly extensible – and more performant )
  42. Architectural Refactoring <ul><li>Increased modularity </li><ul><li>Creating managers and backends
  43. Moving features from scripts to plugins </li></ul><li>Performance analysis and improvement
  44. Co-existing with other ATs; not driving them </li></ul>
  45. Plugin System: Presenters <ul><li>Speech (for users who are blind)
  46. Speech (for users with learning disabilities)
  47. Braille
  48. Magnification
  49. Highlighting
  50. Stuff we haven't thought of </li></ul>
  51. Plugin System: Commands <ul><li>Present Day and Time
  52. Review Notifications
  53. Caret Navigation
  54. Structural Navigation – jump amongst objects
  55. Structural Navigation – list of objects
  56. Chat Support
  57. Live Region Support
  58. Skim Reading </li></ul>
  59. Plugin System: Additional Tools <ul><li>“Script Extenders” </li><ul><li>History List
  60. Structural Navigation Core Code </li></ul><li>New scripting/plugin language </li><ul><li>Abstraction layer
  61. Application and toolkit idiosyncrasies
  62. Reduced (eliminated?) need to know AT-SPI </li></ul></ul>
  63. GUI Manager <ul><li>Orca can exist in gtk2/pygtk and gtk3/pygi worlds
  64. Orca can “look native” in other environments: </li><ul><li>KDE
  65. GNOME shell </li></ul><li>Plugins need a GUI framework: </li><ul><li>To prompt users for input
  66. To provide configuration tools </li></ul></ul>
  67. Shifting the Team Focus <ul><li>Application and toolkit scripts
  68. Plugin language
  69. GUI and settings backends
  70. Documentation
  71. Growing the (plugin) developer community: </li><ul><li>Users
  72. University programs
  73. GSoC </li></ul></ul>
  74. End Result (We Hope) <ul><li>More contributors
  75. More functionality for Orca users
  76. More accessible desktop environments
  77. Way for other applications to become AT tools </li></ul>
  78. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Avenida de la Innovación · 3 · C.P. 41020 · SEVILLA · Tel. 954 51 75 77 · 951 21 04 00 · Fax. 954 51 64 73 · www.emergya.es Thanks for your attention! Questions? More information and free beer Alejandro Leiva < [email_address] > // @gloob

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