Orca is an open source application that provides blind and visually impaired people with an accessibility utility that helps them to work with computers on a daily basis. It has been designed as part of the GNOME project. The application is comprised of two important utilities, a screen reader and a screen magnifier. While the first one allows completely blind people to access the graphical desktop environment, the second one can be used by visually impaired people to magnify various areas of the screen.
Features at a glance
Orca can be configured to start when the user logs into the desktop session, and offers a graphical user interface (GUI) for configuring various settings, such as keyboard and mouse accessibility, preferred applications, and accessible login. Users can also enable assistive technologies, force password dialogs to be displayed as normal windows, speak objects under mouse, as well as many other settings related to voice, speech, braille, key echo, pronunciation, key bindings, and text attributes.
A flexible and extensible screen reader/magnifier
It is a flexible and extensible screen reader/magnifier software that just works. The program uses AT-SPI, the main assistive technology infrastructure for GNU/Linux, BSD or Solaris platforms. The application has been engineered to work with any toolkit or application that supports the Assistive Technology Service Provider Interface (popularly known as AT-SPI), which is available for download on Softpedia. Among some of the applications that support the AT-SPI technology, we can mention the GNOME’s GTK+ toolkit, Java's Swing toolkit, WebKitGtk, LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, and SWT (Standard Widget Toolkit). In addition, the KDE Qt toolkit will also be supported in future versions of the project.
Overall, Orca is a very important component of the GNOME project, as well as for the entire Open Source ecosystem. It allows blind and visually impaired people to access the desktop environment and work like any other end user.