Accessibility Enablement and Usability for GTK Applications

Presented at Desktop Developers' Conference 2006 by George Kraft ( and Peter Parente (


Industry trends have caused business sectors and governments to look at alternative desktop solutions. GNU/Linux is slowly emerging as an open source desktop alternative to Microsoft Windows. In addition, the fulfillment of the globalization requirement is crucial in giving impetus to Linux's world wide acceptance. Comprehensive accessibility for persons with disabilities is the next large human factors requirement to be realized. With some degree of success, a small number of companies, universities, and the open source community have been working hard to create an accessible Linux desktop. In fact, this past September the GNOME and KDE community, through the Free Standards Accessibility workgroup, drafted and signed a unified statement regarding the development of desktop accessibility.

This session will demonstrate how to make a Gtk+ application accessible using the Accessibility Toolkit API (ATK) and how to improve its non-visual presentation using the Linux Screen Reader (LSR). Our talk will feature two live tutorials. First, we will show how a Gtk application, an xtalk clone called gtalk, can be made accessible using the Glade interface designer. We will comment on techniques and best-practices for using ATK to expose information and events in GUI applications in general. Second, we will develop a script for the Linux Screen Reader that improves the accessibility and usability using gtalk in audio. We will highlight key features of the LSR platform including its extensibility and managed scripting environment.

The importance of this talk is highlighted by recent trends and events. First, roughly 610 million people worldwide have a disability, a large number of whom developed an impairment with age. That the number of elderly people who are computer literate is rapidly growing stresses the importance of designing programs for use by a population with diverse abilities. Second, accessibility can be a make-or-break factor in pushing open source into the government sector. The recent debacle over the adoption of the Open Document Format by the State of Massachusetts is a perfect example.



Attic/LSR/DDC06 (last edited 2013-11-21 22:56:08 by WilliamJonMcCann)