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Subject: Improving accessibility in Rockbox Utility

Improving accessibility in Rockbox Utility

From: Dominik Riebeling <>
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 15:57:01 +0200


first my apologies for not replying in-thread -- I was unsubscribed
from this list for a while due to some frustration caused by the
continuous ignorance against the list etiquette of some people on this
list. I therefore haven't gotten the original mails in this thread.
Now back to the topic:

Let me clarify some things about accessibility in regards of Qt. I
investigated in this topic some while ago, but unfortunately there
wasn't much help among blind people thus making it harder as I don't
know the real user "experience".

- on Windows, accessibility is done using the Microsoft Active
Accessibility (MSAA) framework. Qt supportes this. Of course this
requires the information that should get exposed to the MSAA to be
- there is no "JAWS doesn't like Qt" thing -- Qt uses the same
framework (MSAA) as other applications including the native windows
applications do. That way there is also no difference between various
screen readers, given that all implement the complete MSAA interface
(something that unsurprisingly isn't true with actual software, so
there are differences). Claiming Qt not working with accessibility
(which seems to be very popular) is simply wrong so please stop doing
- Qt uses a plugin to enable accessibility. If this plugin isn't
present (which is usually the case) there won't be any accessibility
available unless the program manufacturer provides it. Another issue
arises if the program binary is statically linked -- in that case Qt
plugins won't work and you need to compile the plugin into the binary.
This is done for the Rockbox Utility binary (and I tested this on
- wxwidgets uses native widgets on windows and GTK+ on linux. That way
quite similar issues exist for wxwidgets. It seems that wxwidgets
provides more information by default compared to Qt. Using native
widgets does NOT solve the MSAA issue per se. (IIRC, Qt uses native
widgets for the "Luna" theme on Windows XP too)

I tested voice with a demo version of JAWS rather shortly because my
virtual windows box frequently locks up when using sound output. For
further tests I used NVDA (which is an open source screen reader and
also comes as portable version thus not requiring an installation) on
a real windows box (on which I don't want to install a JAWS demo as it
will time out after some time).

Now let's talk about how to improve the accessibility stuff on Rockbox Utility.
- Qt4 has the new properties accessibleName and accessibleDescription
in QWidget which should help improving the interface. Currently
Rockbox Utility doesn't use them and from my understanding those
should help improving it greatly.
- adding a CLI interface to Rockbox Utility is still planned.
- unless someone familiar tells us _exactly_ about the issue there
isn't much we can do about it -- simply whining about "not working"
absolutely doesn't help improving it. And even if I "turn of the
monitor" (as someone suggested on IRC) the experience is still
completely different -- for example, I'm completely unused to tts
engines which makes it rather hard to "get" it. Therefore I (and I bet
almost every sighted user that is not used to accessibility) have
problems grabbing the complete issues.

 - Dominik
Received on 2007-10-05

Page was last modified "Jan 10 2012" The Rockbox Crew