Screen reader accessibility for the Plasma desktop

It’s been rather quiet when it comes to accessibility in KDE land for a while. But I’m very happy to see some movement and fresh energy, moving in a good direction.

If you’re curious about making our software available to more users, improving it for everyone (for example keyboard usability), now is the time to join. We are talking on the accessibility mailing list. It’s still to early to say what the exact plan will look like, but there will be progress. Thanks to the last Randa meeting, we reached the point where a few things in Plasma do work with a screen reader, enough to let a few brave souls experiment with it. Now we’ll have to structure what needs improvements, I could imaging defining some workflows. Once we have broken down the big goal of making Plasma a joy to use with a screen reader, we’ll have to make sure of a few things for each sub goal:

  • Keyboard navigation needs to work – being blind, using a mouse is often pointless, since you won’t see the pointer. It’s very important that we can do everything with the keyboard. This is of course good for everyone, we all win.
  • The screen reader needs to know what to present to the user – we need to make sure that buttons that only show an icon have an alternative description for example. Some work has been done in this direction, but without user testing, it won’t be polished or even complete.
  • Performance fixes in the accessibility stack – this needs some investigation, some of the implementation in Qt may not be in agreement with what Orca expects.
We will try to coordinate the work starting on the Plasma Accessibility Phabricator board.
I think we really need someone to take on the role of coordinator and help move this forward, listening to users what’s most important and getting developers to spend a little time fixing things. This is really something anyone can help with, and I think we already have some people interested on the list.

Comments are closed.