Ensure that all system preferences/administration tools that have specifically been written for Ubuntu are accessible to everybody, particularly people who use the GNOME Accessibility framework and assistive technology applications.

Release Note

  • The Ubuntu desktop administration and installation tools ubiquity, the software sources selector, and the hardware testing utility should now be accessible to those who use assistive technologies on the GNOME desktop.


Ubuntu ships several tools that have been written by Ubuntu developers for the GNOME desktop, to make particular system administration tasks easier for users, such as adjusting software sources, hardware testing, and installing drivers for hardware. Such utilities often have to perform functions as the root user, to be able to work with system files and the package manager. It is currently not possible for users who use the GNOME Accessibility framework and assistive technologies such as Orca and onboard to make full use of these tools. These tools should be fully accessible, to allow more easy administration of one's system, without requiring users to have to use the command-line to perform these tasks.

Use Cases

  • Joe uses the Orca screen reader for GNOME to use his system with synthesized speech output. He wishes to add a software repository containing up to date accessibility applications and tools for the GNOME desktop. He loads the software sources application, and adds the repository he wants to use.
  • Linda wishes to help with hardware testing. She uses the GNOME On-Screen keyboard, or Onboard to help her use the hardware testing application.
  • Jason downloads the desktop CD, and installs Ubuntu on several machines using Orca with a refreshable Braille display. All the machines have different CPU speeds.


Since at-spi (a part of the GNOME accessibility framework) is unable to provide accessibility for GUI windows running as another user without opening up security holes, the best approach is to port affected applications to PolicyKit.

UI Changes

The only UI change will be the removal of the password entry dialog, as the gksu command will not be used to launch the affected applications.

Code Changes

  • Software sources and hardware testing both currently run as root. These applications need to be changed to use PolicyKit, allowing the UI to run as the user.

  • Ubiquity should use python-xlib to properly find out whether the at-spi registry daemon is running and ready. At the moment, a timeout is used, which does not work in all changes. The code for checking the readiness of at-spi-registryd from gnome-session should be used as a guide here. Python-xlib needs to be moved to main before it can be used.

Test/Demo Plan

Outstanding Issues

BoF agenda and discussion


UbuntuDesktopToolsA11yReview (last edited 2008-08-06 16:23:17 by localhost)