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Sysadmin, interested in new technologies, communications, multimedia, accessibility, better Linux than Windows, better Android than IOS and similar.



Peter Vágner

Chromium is getting #Accessibility support on linux

2 min read

Update: More up to date snapshot than chromium-snapshot-bin 80 is now available. Make sure you are running the latest snapshot for testing and reporting bugs.


Accessibility support with Chromium on linux is a thing that developers are working very hard on this year and it turns out it’s getting better and better all the time. I’d say now it’s very usable already. Joan Marie has written a wiki article explaining its current state. I’ve expressed that it looks to be awesome, feels snappy.

Now I’ll add a few simple steps explaining how to install the latest chromium snapshot and enable its built-in accessibility support on Arch linux and other linux distros based off of it.

  • All the commands you are executing should be executed as a normal user i.e. not root. Those that require super user privileges are starting with sudo.

  • Download and install chromium-snapshot-bin package from the AUR

    tar xvzf chromium-snapshot-bin.tar.gz
    cd chromium-snapshot-bin
    makepkg -s
  • Now pay attention what package version this will end up building for example as of today it’s chromium-snapshot-bin-80.0.3970.0.r716024-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz.

  • Install the package like this

    sudo pacman -U chromium-snapshot-bin-80.0.3970.0.r716024-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz 
  • Now set a required variable named ACCESSIBILITY_ENABLED to 1 and write it to your desktop session profile

    sudo bash -c 'echo "export ACCESSIBILITY_ENABLED=1" > /etc/profile.d/'
  • Now Write suggested chromium command line flags to the config file wrapper script responsible for launching chromium is looking for

    echo "--force-renderer-accessibility --enable-caret-browsing " > ~/.config/chromium-flags.conf
  • Now relogin to your desktop session, launch chromium whatewer way you prefer and you should enjoy its accessibility support with orca.

Peter Vágner

radio app for is now at v3.2.0. Except of things listed in the changelog it features a few improvements and slovak translation. Enjoy a simple but powerfull app with Talkback or any other screen reader of choice. Gplay: F-Droid (coming soon):

Peter Vágner

Peter Vágner

Peter Vágner

people how would you improve accessibility of a conversation window of a app? It's applicable to more apps...

Peter Vágner

Peter Vágner

Emacs A11y Tip #2: graphical or pure text console setup

4 min read

In my Emacs A11y Tip #1 I've already touched the topic of this #2 from slightly. I did not explore all the details at the time so I feel I should try to correct this now.
When installing Emacs there are various possible build configurations and some of them have been adopted as a defacto standards meaning analogous packages are available in the multiple linux distributions package repositories. These are emacs, emacs-nox and emacs-gtk2.

Guessing from the package names it's obvious -nox variant has all the graphical dependencies stripped out. That means we will only see text UI when running no matter if we are in a graphical X session or on a text only console. I was expecting full package would therefore be unnecessary for me because it brings in a few more dependencies and the window it presents is inaccessible to orca anyway. So given this reasoning I assumed it might have minimal impact and I won't need X support in my install of Emacs.

My complicated reasoning has proven not to be quite right and X support within emacs might really be usefull. I have found out a few differences between X and no X variants and some of them are serious enough for me to install X support.

  • When X support is installed, emacs kill and copy commands insert the text into the clipboard so it's possible to copy and paste from emacs into other applications and the other way round.
  • No X variant can be also running within a terminal emulator like gnome-terminal. It means you can use orca's flat review to examine its output.
  • When X support is installed Emacs creates its own window seperated from a terminal if emacs is started from a terminal emulator. It is completelly inaccessible to orca and it consumes all the keyboard input so orca even can't receive the insert / capslock key presses. It is possible to decide during runtime when X aware version of emacs is installed if we want / don't want X support. Run
    emacs -nw
    to start emacs with no X support.
  • Installation which also features X support can also be started in pure text only console. In such a case X support won't be used obviously. Emacs should otherwise be as functional as intended. I've found askubuntu answer supporting this argument. Some parts of Emacs appear to inherit native accessibility and I am not sure where this is coming from. For example pressing C-x C-f brings up find interface accessible with Speechd-el but pressing F10 shows up GTK2 based menu bar and activating Open... from the File menu pops up GTK2 native file chooser dialog.
  • emacs-gtk2 has X support and as an addition it also features mixture of its natural UI with some GTK2 based widgets. I don't know if there is something usefull for us here.

Given the fact there is no complete full browser inside Emacs, copy and paste is really essential. Additionally it is possible to configure Emacs to open web links in 3rd party apps so depending if you are in X or not you can configure to open these in Firefox or elinks directly.

There might be other notable differences when running emacs within X session or pure text console for example gpg agent setup or integration with other 3rd party tools. If I find it to be significant enough I will post a new tip.
I don't consider emacs with gtk+2 support particularly appealing just yet because it does not appear to be practical switching between operating system native and emacs specific screen reading app.

Update: Originally I have assumed graphical ATK accessible menu is only within emacs-gtk2, however it's also present in the original emacs with no GTK support. It sounds a bit dissapointing that we have no speechd-el accessible menu in this mode. But using keyboard shortcuts and other things is worth the trade I think.

Update2: Run

emacs -nw

if you would like to decide at runtime whether you do want an X support or not.