1)EnhancementstoscreenreaderOrca: CDAC team has contributed following features to Orca screen reader of GNOME desktop:
ListShortcuts: This helps a new Orca user who finds it difficult to remember the numerous keyboard shortcuts. At the press of a key combination, Orca is ready to speak the list of available shortcuts. The user can navigate the list with Up/ Down arrows. This has become a standard feature for GNOME 2.32 and later. More information can be found at
SkimReading: While reading a large document, a user may want a quick preview of the contents or he may want to go directly to a specific paragraph. In Skim Read, Orca skims through the entire document, reading only the first line/sentence of each paragraph. The user can halt at the desired paragraph by pressing the “Ctrl” key. The feature has been tested by members of Orca community and may become part of a future release. More information can be found at
StructuralNavigationforOpenOffice.org: Structural navigation enables a user to navigate through elements of a specific category like tables, headings, etc. by pressing only a key or two. For example, a user can move to the next heading by pressing H and to the previous heading by pressing Shift+H. In Orca this feature is available for HTML documents, but not for word documents. CDAC team studied the accessibility of OpenOffice.org and identified bugs which were blocking implementation of structural navigation. CDAC team has also submitted patches to add structural navigation to word documents. More information can be found at –
Navigationbysentence: This feature provides navigation by sentence in Libre/Open Office Word Processor documents and text documents. To read the current sentence, press Windows+slash. To read the previous sentence, press Windows+comma. To read the next sentence, press Windows+period. More information can be found at - https:// bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=520591
RestorationofNumPadfunctionality: Flat Review takes over NumPad functionality even when NumLock is on. This problem was fixed for the main Orca branch w.e.f. Orca v3.3.4 but not for xdesktop branch. CDAC Mumbai has fixed the problem for orca-3.2.0-xdesktop. So NumPad keys can be used to type numerals and arithmetic operators when NumLock is On. Additionally, NumLock On/ Off announcements and key echos for Super key and Menu key are enabled. More information can be found at - https:// bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=690198
Enhanced version of Orca-3.2.0-xdesktop which includes the above features can be downloaded from here
2)MakingPDFdocumentsaccessible: CDAC Mumbai made PDF documents more accessible and usable for blind users through Orca. This method of accessing PDF has been listed on ORKA Wiki. More information can be found at http://live.gnome.org/Orca/Acroread#Use_pdftohtml"
PDF to HTML utility script can be download from
3)Easy traversal of desktop icon and modified search facility: Desktop is the very first screen after logging into the system. A visually impaired user may need to know what is available on the desktop by traversing it once. In absence of visual feedback, it is very confusing for visually impaired to exactly know the state of desktop. This feature helps user traverse the desktop icons completely by using a single arrow key (Down arrow key). More information can be found at – https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=613111
Search facility has been modified on Desktop icon view.
1) Anumaan: It is an open source predictive text entry system to aid people with motor disabilities.Moredetails about Anumaan can be accessed at –
2) GEM: GEM (GEstures with Mouse) is a mouse gesture-based input mechanism which uses gestures as input to the system. Gestures can be drawn using a mouse or some equivalent device like touch pad, joystick, pen tablet etc.
This Input mechanism is intended for people suffering with different kinds of motor disabilities, who may face problems in using mouse and keyboard in conventional way. Hence, it provides them with an alternate and effective mechanism for using the system to perform various tasks such as navigation, executing commands & keyboard shortcuts, and launching applications etc. on Linux desktop.
3) Hand Gesture-based Input Mechanism: A prototype for hand gesture recognition have been developed. On the basis of prototype, the development of hand gesture-based input mechanism (HGIM) is in progress. This mechanism intends to provide input mechanism via a set of predefined hand gestures for Linux desktop.
Cognitive disability is one of the most challenging disabilities to address. People with cognitive impairment face different kinds of problems such as memory loss – short-term or long-term, learning disability, forgetfulness, attention problems, etc. The type and nature of the problem varies from person to person. A desktop environment is being developed as per the requirements of these users. The initial focus is given to address the memory based issues, associated with such users while using computer. Features include:
Tagged file system with visual tags for easy recall.
User Activity Log to checkout the work done before.
A GNU/Linux distribution has been developed containing these features. The details of the distribution can be found
GNU/Linux distributions for differently-abled people
There are three distributions specific to three different kinds of disabilities namely:
ALViC : This is a GNU/Linux distribution created specially for visually challenged users. Visually challenged users can use it out of the box because accessibility settings required by them are already enabled. The details of the distribution can be found
GNU/Linux distribution for Cognitively-challenged: This GNU/Linux distribution has been developed to provide an accessible desktop environment to the cognitively challenged users. The details of the distribution can be found
GNU/Linux distribution for Physically-challenged: This GNU/Linux distribution is a special distribution for physically challenged people, so that they can easily access FOSS desktops. The details of the distribution can be found
Computer Training Program for Visually Challenged : A number of training programs for Visually Challenged are organised during July, 2012 - January, 2013. Details about one of the training program can be accessed here :-
Collaboration and linkage with relevant institutions and rehabilitations centres working for visually impaired for consultation, experience sharing, testing and feedback collection
Solutions have been deployed and tested at various institutions and centres working for the differently-abled persons.
Shiv Nath K, Sagun B, Leena C, Aparna R, Sasikumar M, "Conceptualizing a Desktop Environment for Cognitively Challenged People",<doi>10.1145/2381716.2381785, ACM ICPS proceedings and page366-370,Proceedings of CUBE Conference 3-5 Sep, 2012, Pune, India.
Leena C, Bhat D, Aparna R, Sasikumar M, “Enhancing Orca For Document Navigation For Visually Impaired”, page255-262, Proceedings of AEGIS Conference 28-30 Nov, 2011, Brussels, Belgium.