This is a response to my Blog post about Linux accessibility. I wrote it in response to another comment. It turned into a bit of a long one though and the information is applicable to a lot of things. So, have a read of this:

KDE is based on QT and Gnome is based on GTK. It’s important to recognise the differences in these environments from the start. QT doesn’t support AT-SPI. It was planned to support this but it never happened. This is down to a decision by the QT developers.
Here’s an article that discusses how Gnome communicates with Orca.

There’s information about the accessibility of QT packages at

GTK is not the only standard for the graphical desktop manager in Linux. QT is just as much of a player. That’s where the problem comes in. Any application that is written for Gnome and follows the Gnome development guidelines will communicate the necessary information to Orca. The problem arises when you launch a QT based application such as Acrobat reader as Orca doesn’t get the required information from it.

I understand your point about the limited progress in some areas due to developers not making enough progress with their compliants with the accessibility guidelines but tell me one platform where that isn’t an issue. It’s nothing to do with communication. It’s a problem with bad coding. Simple.

In relation to the problems you have encountered accessing applications that run as root in Ubuntu, there are a number of well documented fixes to this. Basically, Orca, like every other Linux application can not obtain information from a process running as a more privlidged user. This is the reason why Linux is such a secure platform. However, there are work arounds to this as I said earlier. In fact, Listen to one of the recordings in the Linux section of and you will hear one of the ways of getting around this. In Vinux, the environment is preconfigured for optomal accessibility. Perhaps you should try this out? You might find that with the environment configured to provide the most accessibility, most of your issues are resolved. If nothing else, it will illustrate to you that on most distributions of Linux running Gnome, problems can be ironed out if your willing to spend some time on configuration.

I’d also suggest you read as I’m almost certain that you’ll find an alternative and accessible PDF reader. As for skype, use the plug in for Pidgin. I would bet that you will not find an application that doesn’t have a gTK counterpart in LInux. There are very few things in Linux that you will not be able to access if you keep at it. Just like the same can be said in windows or even OSX if your that way inclined.