OpenWindows User's Guide

Appendix B Access for Users With Disabilities

Many users with disabilities have trouble using the standard keyboard and mouse on computers. They may find it difficult or impossible to hold down two keys at once (to type capital letters or control characters), or to use a mouse, or type accurately.

AccessX is an extension to OpenWindows that makes it easier for people with disabilities to use a keyboard and to move a pointer around their screen. With AccessX running, you can:

Starting AccessX

AccessX is an extension to OpenWindows.

To start OpenWindows with the AccessX extension, type

openwin -accessx

This enables you to activate and deactivate AccessX features both with buttons in AccessX windows and with certain keystroke combinations. For example, you can turn StickyKeys on and off by pressing the Shift key five times.

Alternately, you can start OpenWindows without the -accessx option. You still have the full AccessX functionality; however, you can't use the special keystroke sequences to turn features on or off. You must use buttons in AccessX windows instead.

The -accessx option does not affect the use of other OpenWindows options.

(If OpenWindows comes up automatically, from your . or .login file, you may want to add the -accessx option to the line that calls OpenWindows.)

AccessX Windows

If you've brought up OpenWindows, and no AccessX windows are already up on your screen, type accessx & in a command window.

If you're running AccessX and want to have AccessX windows come up automatically when you start OpenWindows, choose Save Workspace from the Utilities submenu of the main (background) OpenWindows menu.

The AccessX Main Window

After you type accessx &, this window appears:

Figure B-1 The AccessX Main Window


Displaying the Status of Buttons and Keys

From the Status menu, you can display two windows that show the status of mouse buttons and certain keys. The StickyKey status window indicates if a key such as Control or Shift is pressed; the MouseKeys status window does the same for mouse buttons.

To open the Status menu, either use the MENU mouse button, or press the F10 key and the letter s. Use the arrow keys to move through the menu.

Figure B-2 The Status Menu


Note -

If you're using StickyKeys or MouseKeys, it's a good idea to display the status window for that feature. Otherwise, you may encounter unexpected behavior that can be very confusing. In StickyKeys, for example, if the Control key is "locked" down, pressing the letter c sends a Control-C to the computer. The StickyKeys status window reminds you that Control is active.

Getting a Beep When a Feature is Turned On or Off

The main window has a check box labeled "Sound when features turned On/Off." (See Figure B-1.) If you check this box, any time a feature such as StickyKeys or SlowKeys is activated or deactivated, the computer beeps.

Setting the Automatic Shutoff Timer

If you share your computer with someone who doesn't use AccessX, you may want to have AccessX turn itself off automatically if the machine isn't used for a certain period of time. That way, neither you nor the person who uses your machine after you has to remember to shut off AccessX.

To activate this timeout, check the "Off after time out (min)" check box. (See Figure B-1.) Move the associated slider to set the amount of time AccessX should wait without input before disabling itself. You can set this time to be anywhere from zero to six minutes.

Getting On-Line Help

AccessX has several help windows; choose the subject that interests you from the main window's Help menu. To open this menu, either use the MENU mouse button, or press F10 and the letter h. Use the arrow keys to move through the menu.

Figure B-3 The Help Menu


The Settings Window

Click the Settings button in the AccessX main window to display the Settings window. This window displays adjustable parameters for various AccessX features. These parameters are discussed in the section covering each individual feature.

Figure B-4 The AccessX Settings Window


Individual Features


Many people with disabilities have trouble holding down two keys at once, making combinations like Control-D or Shift-Mouse-Click difficult. When StickyKeys is turned on, modifier keys (generally, Shift, Alt, Control, and Meta) stay active while you type another key or click a mouse button.

Turning StickyKeys On and Off

There are four ways to turn StickyKeys off:

Latching and Locking

Sticky keys may be either latched or locked:


In this case, you would press Shift twice to lock it. Then you'd press the colon key and the letters w and r. To unlock Shift, press it again.

You can bring up a Status window to see which keys are latched or locked. (See "Displaying the Status of Buttons and Keys".)

StickyKeys Settings

Getting a Beep Whenever a Modifier is Pressed

You can have your computer beep every time you press a modifier key (with StickyKeys on). Since pressing these keys latches, locks, or releases them, a beep can be a useful reminder that you've enabled or disabled a modifier. (It's easy to forget this in the course of normal typing.)

To enable this setting, check the "Sound when modifier pressed" check box in the Settings window. (See Figure B-4.)

Turning StickyKeys Off by Pressing Two Modifiers at Once

When you check this box (in the Settings window), you allow yourself to turn off StickyKeys by pressing two modifiers at once (such as Control and Shift). Some people find this easier than clicking with a mouse or pressing Shift five times.


If you have trouble using a mouse, use MouseKeys to make the numeric keypad on your keyboard emulate mouse actions. You can move the pointer around your screen, as you would with a mouse, and click or press mouse buttons.

Turning MouseKeys On and Off

There are two ways to turn MouseKeys on and off:

Keyboard Emulations of Mouse Actions

When MouseKeys is turned on, the keys on the numeric pad have three different kinds of functions:

You can bring up a Status window to see which mouse keys are currently pressed.

Figure B-5 Mouse Button Equivalents for a Numeric Keypad


MouseKeys Settings

Changing the Maximum Speed of the Pointer

If you have trouble moving the pointer with the accuracy you want, you can slow it down. To change how fast the pointer moves, check the box marked "Max. pointer speed (pix/sec)." (See Figure B-4.) Adjust its slider bar to the speed that you want. The speed is in pixels/per second, and can range from 10 up to 1000. [Limits on pointer speed apply only when MouseKeys is turned on.]

Setting the "Ramp-Up" Speed for the Pointer

You can set how fast the pointer reaches its maximum speed (when MouseKeys is set). To do this, adjust the slider marked "Time to max speed" (see Figure B-4.) This way, you can be more deliberate in moving the pointer. You can set the mouse to take up to four seconds to reach full speed.


Many keyboards have indicator lights (LEDs) that light up when certain keys are active. An example of this is the Caps Lock key. When Caps Lock is pressed, its indicator light goes on.

For people with no or little eyesight, these indicator lights are of limited use. The ToggleKeys feature serves as the aural equivalent of such a light. When you make Num Lock, Caps Lock, or Scroll Lock active, the computer beeps once. When you deactivate the key, the computer beeps twice.

Turning ToggleKeys On and Off

Check the ToggleKeys check box in the AccessX main window to turn this feature on and off.


Some users with limited motor abilities have a hard time taking their finger (or mouth stick) off keys quickly. As a result, for example, they sometimes type kkkkkkkkk when they mean to type k,. With RepeatKeys on, a key must be held down for a certain length of time before it starts to repeat.

Turning RepeatKeys On and Off

There are two ways to turn RepeatKeys on and off:

Note -

Holding down the Shift key for eight seconds also turns on SlowKeys.

RepeatKeys Settings

Delaying the Onset of Repetition

You can set the amount of time you want a key to be pressed before it begins repeating. This interval can be anywhere from a tenth of a second up to ten seconds. To set this parameter, move the "Delay until repeat" slider (see Figure B-4) to the number of seconds you want keys to wait before repeating.

Setting the Rate of Repeating

You can also set the repeat rate. The repeat rate represents how many times a pressed key will repeat per second. The rate ranges from 0.1 (that is, ten seconds per key) to 10 (that is, ten keys per second). The higher you set this value, the faster the key repeats. Set this to a low value to keep a pressed key from repeating, or from repeating too quickly.

Move the "Repeat rate" slider to the value you want. (See Figure B-4.)


Users who have trouble typing often hit the wrong key, or keys, while trying to type. They may, for example, hit r while reaching to type t. When SlowKeys is turned on, only keys that are held down for a minimum, specified time will be accepted as input. Keys that are hit inadvertently will not register.

Note -

Both SlowKeys and BounceKeys cannot be active at once.

Turning SlowKeys On and Off

Turn SlowKeys on and off in either of these ways:

Note -

Holding down the Shift key for eight seconds also turns on RepeatKeys.

SlowKeys Settings

Setting the Notification Style

You may want to be notified of a key's status while SlowKeys is active. That way you don't have to guess whether you've held the key down long enough for it to be accepted.

There are two check boxes ("pressed" and "accepted") in the Settings window for setting how you want to be notified of a key's status when SlowKeys is in effect. By checking these boxes, you can have your machine beep:

Setting the Acceptance Delay

The acceptance delay is the interval between when you first press a key and when it transmits input. You can set this with the "Acceptance delay (sec" slider located in the Settings window. (See Figure B-4.) This delay can range from zero to five seconds.


BounceKeys aids people who have trouble holding down a key, or who tend to hit a key repeatedly when they mean to press it only once. BounceKeys sets the window system to ignore rapid, repeated pressings of a single key.

Note -

Both SlowKeys and BounceKeys cannot be active at once.

Turning BounceKeys On and Off

To turn BounceKeys on and off, check the BounceKeys check box on the AccessX main window.

BounceKey Settings

Setting the Debounce Time

The Debounce Time is the interval that must pass before a second pressing of a key is accepted.

You can set this interval with the "Debounce time (sec)" slider. (See Figure B-4.) This delay can range from zero to five seconds.

Keystrokes for AccessX Features

Table B-1 shows the various AccessX features and their associated keystrokes. You must start OpenWindows with the -accessx option to use these keystrokes.

Table B-1 Features and Their Keystrokes



Turn StickyKeys on or off. 

Press Shift five times. 

Turn StickyKeys off. 

Press any two modifiers (e.g., Shift and Alt) at once. Note: You must turn this ability on from the Settings menu. 

Turn MouseKeys on or off. 

Alt - Shift - Num Lock 

Move the pointer (when MouseKeys is turned on). 

1-4, 6-9 keys on the numeric keypad 






SELECT (mb1) 

ADJUST (mb2) 

MENU (mb3) 

Turn RepeatKeys on or off. 

Hold down Shift for eight seconds (beeps at four seconds) 

Turn SlowKeys on or off. 

Hold down Shift for eight seconds (beeps at four seconds)