Using Orca

1. How do I run Orca?

Merely run orca. You can do so from a virtual console window if you do not yet have access to the GUI -- orca will automatically enter text setup mode if you run it from a virtual console window or your GUI environment is not yet set up for accessibility.

See also the user documentation for more information.

2. What keyboard commands do I use to access the desktop and applications?

Orca is designed to allow you to navigate the desktop and its applications using the standard keyboard navigation mechanisms built into the GNOME platform (see

See also the user documentation for more information.

3. What keyboard commands do I use to control Orca?

Orca is designed to allow you to navigate the desktop and its applications using the keyboard navigation mechanisms built into the GNOME platform (see As such, we try to limit the Orca-specific keyboard commands as much as possible. There are occasions, however, where you may want to interact with Orca itself, such as invoking the configuration GUI or escaping to flat review mode to get a better idea of what is on the screen.

Refer to the user documentation for more information on the keyboard commands for Orca.

4. How do I get Orca to speak alongside other ALSA applications?

NOTE to Ubuntu Hardy users: Ubuntu Hardy is investigating the use of PulseAudio to take care of a lot of device contention. As a result, audio mixing should "just work" on Ubuntu Hardy and you shouldn't have to monkey around with this stuff.

Hotly debated issue, It is not Orca's fault that it is set up like this, so the fix should be done elsewhere, but if you don't care about the politics and simply want it to work then:

sudo apt-get install alsa-oss

now change directory:

cd /usr/lib/bonobo/servers/

now edit using your favorite editor: If you are using Espeak then modify:


and if you are using Festival:


replace "festival" for "espeak" if you wish to modify the festival synthesizer. On the third line of the file you will see (remember to use dashes instead of underscores):

                type="exe" location="/usr/bin/espeak-synthesis-driver"

replace this with:

                type="exe" location="/usr/bin/aoss /usr/bin/espeak-synthesis-driver"

Note that if the alsa-oss package is not installed then you will have a broken system and wont have any speech output, so make sure it is installed.

save the file, and restart Orca, now you can use mplayer and suchlike to output sound alongside Orca.

5. What applications does Orca work with?

See the Accessible Applications page.

6. Skype, does it work with Orca, or when will it be accessible?

this is the Orca list. You should ask Skype related questions at You might also consider reading the ../Orca home page - where the second heading is "Does Orca work with Skype?" Also consider emailing skype and ask the Skype team to make their user interface work with the AT-SPI. See also a hack for Pidgin that's still not very accessible.

7. Does Orca work with GNOME shell ?

Yes. Orca is part of the GNOME project and obviously it is the intention of the GNOME developers that the GNOME desktop can be used with Orca. GNOME shell is the new user interface of GNOME 3. Unfortunately, due to the huge amount of work necessary for the migration to the new GNOME 3 platform (DBus instead of Bonobo, introspected libraries instead of static ones, just to name a few), the first version of GNOME shell was not accessible. GNOME 3.2 was accessible up to some point. In this time of transition GNOME has also provided a fallback mode, a.k.a. classic mode, that it is a user interface that resembles the one delivered in the GNOME 2 series. The fallback mode is accessible, but it is just a temporary solution.

The good news is that since GNOME 3.4, GNOME shell is accessible and we hope that following version be just awesome :-)

To learn how to use GNOME shell, we recommend you read this.

8. Does Orca work with KDE?

No. KDE currently does not support the AT-SPI. There's some work being done to make the AT-SPI more amenable to the KDE folks. Orca currently requires the AT-SPI infrastructure, which is not supported by KDE at this point in time. Work is underway, however, and you should track the accessibility of KDE on the kde-accessibility mailing list:

9. How do I do system administration tasks?

See the GNOME System Administration Using Orca page for more information.

The information on this page and the other Orca-related pages on this site are distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


Projects/Orca/FrequentlyAskedQuestions/UsingOrca (last edited 2013-12-28 15:26:34 by WilliamJonMcCann)