Re: Lots of accessibility questions

Hi Nolan,

I've recently switched from Debian to Ubuntu and, aside from my
frustrations with speech not working, things have been so much
smoother. Today I even managed to use the GNOME accessibility
components at work; we use Eclipse, and I wasn't expecting much when I
fired up the GTK2 version, but I'm actually *not* looking forward to
getting a copy of JAWS and having to switch back to windows. :) I have
lots of questions now that I'm using this more heavily, and rather
than sending out lots of smaller messages, I thought I'd lump them
into one.

I'll take some of you questions, and leave others to other folks.

Recently I've been looking at Orca...

This is one I'll leave to the Orca maintainer.

I'm curious about the various Mozilla accessibility tarballs. I'm
assuming that the various accessibility tweaks are being murged into
Mozilla's mainline? I know that the last accessibility release was
several months back; have all of the changes of that release been
murged into any newer versions, or would I still be better off with
the older release?

You'll still be a bit better off with the Sun build. Our most recent build, from April 2005, is our branch of Mozilla 1.7. You can find it at:

Roughly 80% of our accessibility bug fixes have made it back to trunk. Most of the remainder are in code that has changed so much, it is rather a significant amount of work to integrate them. As we do plan to move to a more modern mozilla/gecko, we're looking to do that integration work later, when we make that move. Of course, anyone is more than welcome to do so in advance of Sun (we publish a source tarball as well).

I'm interested in playing with Vino. IIRC, a few years ago, remote
desktop access wasn't supported, though it was possible. Is this now

No clue.  I've never used Vino.

I'm a bit curious about assistive technology startup. I've been
adding gnopernicus as a startup session item, but I've noticed the
screen reader checkbox under the accessibility preferences. Is this
intended to replace adding Gnopernicus as a startup program? I've
tried this, and it seems to work, albeit less reliably (I.e. sometimes
it starts, sometimes it doesn't.) I'll do more debugging if necessary,
but would simply like to ensure that I'm understanding correctly
before continuing.

Yes, in earlier versions of GNOME there wasn't as clean a way to specify startup applications. If you prefer to launch Gnopernicus using the new mechanism, that's great!

Also, when is it necessary to set GTK_MODULES? I was using a number of
apps nicely, then tried running GAIM only to lose
accessibility. Eventually I remembered that I'd forgotten to copy my
.xsession which I'd set up ages ago and forgotten about it, at which
point things worked. I'm just not sure why.

The issue is that some programs call gnome_program_init(), while others don't (but still use GTK). You might consider the former to be "GNOME" apps and the latter to be "GTK" apps. In any case, if a program doesn't call gnome_program_init(), it should explicitly check the value of the desktop accessibility flag and load gail and atk. GAIM doesn't do this. But the workaround of setting GTK_MODULES remains an end-user option, as you've discovered.

How do I configure Gnopernicus to run at the GDM screen? Does
configuring Gnopernicus to work for logins imply that any other user
on the system will also be running it? (I'm hoping not, as I may want
to set up a Gnopernicus-free guest account.)

You have two options: make Gnopernicus run at GDM time, or make a "gesture listener" run at GDM time which invokes Gnopernicus when the appropriate gesture is made (e.g. pressing Ctrl-G for 1 second). We describe this latter approach in detail in the Sun Accessibility Guide (the instructions are slightly different for Linux). See it at: The key is to edit the /etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf file to specify certain modules be loaded, and to specify the gestures in the /etc/X11/gdm/modules/AccessKeyMouseEvents file. See the specific section in our documentation at:

Think that's enough for now. :) Thanks.

Your welcome!


Peter Korn
Sun Accessibility team

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