Xubuntu Accessibility


Implement some basic accessibility features in Xubuntu.


Because of it's low resource use XFCE may be a very good platform for certain accessibility tools. Things like screen readers and magnifiers often require a fair amount of extra RAM and CPU power. Users should also be able to select the desktop environment they prefer and expect the access tools they need to be available.

Use cases

  • Alice has started experimenting with Linux on an older computer with only 256MB RAM. It runs the standard Gnome desktop just fine but when she starts the magnifier and screen reader that she needs it gets very slow. She wants to try Xubuntu as a lighter alternative, where the access tools should fit more comfortably inti memory.


  • Include a range of accessibility tools already available in gnome with Xubuntu:
    • Orca, Festival (or Espeak), Speech Dispatcher, gnome-mag, and SOK
    • The current access packages used in Ubuntu are already in main (and the new ones will be as well).
  • Create a Live CD accessibility configuration based on the Ubuntu one.


  • Because Xubuntu is a light-weight distro by design, it makes sense to package the assistive technology (AT) packages separately with meta-packages on the form xubuntu-at-* that can be installed/uninstalled depending on need.

  • Allow users to boot the Xubuntu Live CD with the supported accessibility features installed and turned on, using the solution used in Ubuntu (press F5 for accessibility support at gfxboot).


  • Add a high contrast theme to the set of default themes, if one is available
  • Create a xubuntu-at-mag meta-package for AT-SPI, Orca and gnome-mag

  • Create a xubuntu-at-speech meta-package for AT-SPI, Orca, espeak and speech dispatcher

  • Create a xubuntu-at-sok meta-package for SOK (simple on-screen keyboard)

  • Include key modifier support from XFCE upstream when available (Sticky Keys, etc.)
  • Add assistive technology settings to the XFCE configuration system, as these are currently configured with the gnome control utilities. This is simply to a) load the AT-SPI library (one checkbox), and checkboxes for starting Orca or SOK at boot. Configuration of the tools them selves are covered by their own config systems.
  • Create a casper boot profile suitable for the Xubuntu access support features.

Outstanding issues

  • Investigate is how well do XFCE apps support AT-SPI. The assistive apps like gnopernicus run in Xubuntu, but it is not known how well the native XFCE apps support AT-SPI
  • Investigate the availability of high contrast themes and the progress of Key modifier support.

BoF agenda and discussion

  • Jani, heno and Luke looked at access tools, and most gnome tools seem to work on XFCE. Sticky Keys is being developed upstream.

Accessibility/Specs/XubuntuAccessibility (last edited 2008-08-06 16:16:39 by localhost)