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Several of the desktop environments included with PC-BSD provide accessibility features to assist users with physical disabilities. This section provides an overview of these features and references to additional accessibility information.



The GNOME desktop provides features to assist users with vision and mobility impairments. To install these features, make sure that the GNOME-Accessibility box is checked (it is by default) when selecting to install GNOME either during installation or afterwards using System ManagerSystem PackagesDesktops.

The GNOME-Accessibility component installs the following software:

  • dasher[1]: supports alternative input devices such as a joystick, touchscreen, trackball, head-mouse, or eyetracker. This utility is located in ApplicationsUtilitiesDasher. To change the input device, start dasher and click EditPreferencesControl.
  • espeak[2]: a speech synthesizer for English and other languages.
  • gok[3]: application which displays virtual keyboards. You can use a mouse or an alternative pointing device to operate the virtual keyboards. It generates dynamic keyboards that contain keys to represent the applications that are running on your desktop or the menus that are contained in an application. To enable this application, go to System ➜ Preferences ➜ Assistive Technologies. Check the box "Enable assistive technologies" and then press the "Close and Log Out" button. Once you log back in, you can start this program by typing gok in a terminal. To start the virtual keyboard, click Compose in the main window, shown in Figure 9.11a. You can set your gok preferences by clicking GOK ➜ Preferences.

Figure 9.11a: gok Main Screen


  • mousetweaks[4]: provides mouse accessibility enhancements such as simulating different mouse clicks without using physical buttons and a delay-click feature which opens a context menu. To configure mousetweaks, go to System ➜ Preferences ➜ Mouse ➜ Accessibility which will open the screen shown in Figure 9.11b. If you check the box "Trigger secondary click by holding down the primary button", you can simulate a secondary click on a mouse with one button by keeping the primary mouse button pressed without moving the pointer for the time determined by the delay slider. If you check the box "Initiate click when stopping pointer movement", you will activate dwell click. This allows you to assign actions to a single primary click, double click, drag click, and secondary click without having to actually click a mouse button.

Figure 9.11b: Configuring mousetweaks


  • orca[5]: a screen reader that provides access to the graphical desktop via user-customizable combinations of speech or braille. To start orca, click Applications ➜ Utilities ➜ Orca Screen Reader and Magnifier. Instructions for integrating orca into various applications can be found here.

The GNOME-Accessibility component also adds the following options to the login Accessibility screen shown in Figure 4.8b:

  • Use on-screen keyboard
  • Use screen reader
  • Use screen magnifier

More information about GNOME-Accessibility can be found in the GNOME Desktop Accessibility Guide[7].


The KDE desktop provides features to assist users with vision and mobility impairments. To install these features, make sure that the KDE-Accessibility box is checked (it is by default) when selecting to install KDE either during installation or afterwards using System Manager ➜ System Packages ➜ Desktops.



Unsupported desktops


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