Chapter 2 Working With Screen Readers and Magnifiers

Oracle Linux provides Orca as its default on-screen reader. The orca (version 3.6.3) package is installed on your Oracle Linux 7 system by default. Note that this version of Orca does not include a magnifier. In this Oracle Linux release, the GNOME screen magnifier (Zoom) provides magnifier capability for the visually impaired. See Section 2.3, “Using the GNOME Magnifier”.

2.1 Using the Orca Screen Reader

When enabled, the Orca screen reader speaks text as you move the focus of your cursor on-screen.

You can start Orca from the command line or the GNOME desktop. To learn more about Orca, go to https://help.gnome.org/users/orca/stable/.

Starting Orca From the Desktop
  • To start Orca from the GNOME Classic desktop:

    From the Applications menu, select Sundry, and then select Orca.

  • To start Orca from the GNOME desktop:

    1. In the top bar, click Activities to open the Activities overview.

    2. In the Type to search... field, start typing "orca", then click the Orca icon.

When the Orca screen reader starts, the Orca Screen Reader dialog is also displayed. Here, you can optionally customize preferences for Orca, get information about the Orca version that you are running, or quit Orca.

Customizing Preferences for Orca

When you start Orca by following the steps in Section 2.1, “Using the Orca Screen Reader”, the Orca Screen Reader dialog is also displayed. Here, you can configure preferences for the tool. Note that you can customize preferences for Orca that apply globally to all features, such as the key echo functionality, or you can configure Orca preferences for individual features.

Note

If you started Orca manually by enabling the Screen Reader option in the Seeing section of the Universal Access settings panel, the screen reader starts with all of its preferences pre-configured. As such, you do not have the option to customize any of Orca's preferences after enabling the tool.

To customize Orca's preferences:

  1. In the Orca Screen Reader dialog, click Preferences.

  2. In the Preferences dialog, you can configure the following preferences:

    • General: Configure general preferences for how Orca behaves.

    • Voice: Configure preferences for the voice that Orca uses.

    • Speech: Configure preferences for what gets spoken.

    • Braille: Configure preferences for Orca braille display support.

    • Key Echo: Configure preferences for what is spoken while you type.

    • Key Bindings: Configure keyboard shortcuts for Orca.

    • Pronunciation: Configure preferences for how words are pronounced.

    • Text Attributes: Configure preferences for what formatting is presented.

  3. Click OK to save your changes and reload the new settings.

    To discard your changes and use Orca with the default configuration, click Cancel. Clicking Quit closes the Orca Screen Reader dialog box and also exits the tool.

For more information about customizing Orca, go to https://help.gnome.org/users/orca/stable/preferences.html.en.

2.2 Using the Festival Command Interpreter

In addition to the default eSpeak speech synthesizer that is used by Orca, you can use the Festival Speech Synthesis System, which is a general purpose text-to-speech command-line tool. The festival (version 1.96) package is installed by default on your Oracle Linux 7 system.

You can use Festival in command mode and tts (text-to-speech) mode. Users with impaired vision can run the festival command with the --tts option to render text files as speech, as shown in the following example:

$ festival --tts path_to_text_file 

For up-to-date information about Festival, including detailed command-line usage and examples, run the man festival command.

2.3 Using the GNOME Magnifier

Zoom is the default magnifier that is included in the GNOME desktop for Oracle Linux 7.

To start the magnifier from the GNOME Classic desktop:

  1. From the Applications menu, select System Tools, and then select Settings.

  2. In the All Settings window, click the Universal Access icon to open the Universal Access settings panel.

  3. In the Seeing section, toggle the Zoom setting to ON.

    This action opens the Zoom Options window, where you can customize settings for the tool.

To start the magnifier from the GNOME desktop:

  1. In the top bar, click Activities to open the Activities overview.

  2. In the Type to search... field, start typing "universal access", then click the Universal Access icon to open the Universal Access settings panel.

  3. Click the Zoom icon.

    This action opens the Zoom Options window, where you can customize settings for the tool.

Note

You can also enable Zoom for a login screen by clicking the Accessibility menu icon located on the desktop.

Customizing Options for Zoom

You can customize the following options in the Zoom Options window:

  • Magnification: Enables you to increase or decrease the magnification size by clicking the plus (+) or minus (-) signs.

  • Magnifier Position: Enables you to specify where the magnifier is positioned on the desktop. For this option, you can select from the following two options: Follow mouse cursor or Screen part.

    The Follow mouse cursor option enables you to specify that the magnifier's focus follow the cursor wherever it is positioned.

    The Screen part option enables you to specify on which portion of the screen the magnifier is displayed. Settings include the following: top half, bottom half, right half, and left half.

    The Screen part option also includes the following settings that you can customize:

    • Magnifier extends outside of screen: Controls how the magnifier scrolls as it approaches an edge of the desktop. When selected, the contents within the magnifier continue to scroll as the mouse approaches an edge of the desktop. When deselected, the contents cease to scroll as the mouse approaches an edge of the desktop; only the mouse continues to move.

    • Keep magnifier cursor centered: Enables the cursor to remain centered, regardless of the location of the magnifier's contents.

    • Magnifier cursor pushes content around Enables the cursor to move the contents of the magnifier to another location on the desktop.

    • Magnifier cursor moves with the contents: Enables the cursor to move with the contents of the magnifier.

    Note that you can only specify one of these cursor options at any given time.

For more information, see the GNOME Help documentation at https://help.gnome.org/users/gnome-help/stable/a11y-mag.html.en.