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The GNOME and KDE desktop environments included with PC-BSD provide accessibility features to assist users with vision and mobility impairments. This section provides an overview of these features and references to additional accessibility information.

NOTE: if you install the GNOME-Accessibility or KDE-Accessibility system components, most of the applications installed with those components can also be started from the command line, regardless of which desktop a user is logged into.

GNOME Accessibility Tools

To install the GNOME accessibility tools, 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. In GNOME, this utility is located in ApplicationsUtilitiesDasher. It can also be started from the command line by typing dasher. To change the input device, start dasher and click EditPreferencesControl, shown in Figure 9.11a.

Figure 9.11a: Changing the Input Device in Dasher


  • 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. In GNOME, this utility is located in SystemPreferencesAssistive Technologies, or you can type gok at the command line. 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 9.11b. You can set your gok preferences by clicking GOKPreferences.

Figure 9.11b: gok Main Screen


  • mousetweaks[4]: provides mouse accessibility enhancements while logged into GNOME, such as simulating different mouse clicks without using physical buttons and a delay-click feature which opens a context menu. To configure mousetweaks within GNOME, go to SystemPreferencesMouseAccessibility. In the screen shown in Figure 9.11c, 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 9.11c: 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 from within GNOME, click ApplicationsUtilitiesOrca Screen Reader and Magnifier or type orca from the command line. The first time you start orca, you will be prompted to set some preferences and you may be prompted to logout to set those preferences. Once in orca, you can click the "Preferences" button to access a screen of many more preferences, shown in Figure 9.11d. While in orca, you can press F1 or "Help" to access the Orca Users Guide[6]. Orca can also be integrated into several other applications, and instructions on how to do so for various applications can be found at the live GNOME site[7].

Figure 9.11d: Orca Preferences


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[9].

KDE Accessibility Tools

To install the KDE accessibility tools, 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 ManagerSystem PackagesDesktops.

The KDE-Accessibility component installs the following software:

  • espeak[2]: a speech synthesizer for English and other languages.

  • KMag[10]: a screen magnifier. In KDE, this application is in ApplicationsUtilitiesScreen Magnifier or you can type kmag from the command line. Drag the magnifier window over the text you wish to magnify or click its "Settings" button to view the shortcuts for its various modes. Press F1 while the application is open to access the Kmagnifier Handbook.

  • KMouseTool[11]: clicks the mouse whenever the mouse cursor pauses briefly. It can also drag the mouse, although this takes a bit more practice. To start this utility in KDE, click ApplicationsUtilitiesAutomatic Mouse Click or type kmousetool from the command line. In the screen shown in Figure 9.11e, check the settings you wish to use, click the "Apply" button, then click the "Start" button. If you quit this screen, it will be added to the system tray and will continue to run until you launch its icon and click the "Stop" button. A PDF of the KMouseTool Handbook can be downloaded from the KDE site[12].

Figure 9.11e: Configuring KMouseTool


  • jovie:

  • kmouth[13]: enables persons that cannot speak to speak through their computer. It keeps a history of spoken sentences from which the user can select to be re-spoken. To start this program, click ApplicationsUtilitiesSpeech Synthesizer Frontend. The first time you run this application, a configuration wizard will prompt you to set the command to use for speaking texts, the character encoding, and a language phrase book.

  • festival:

  • flite:

More information about KDE-Accessibility can be found in the KDE UserBase Wiki[14].


  2. 2.0 2.1
  8. 8.0 8.1
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