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OpenOffice.org 2.0 Accessibility White Paper

August 2006, Malte Timmermann



  1. Keyboard Navigation

  2. Colors and Fonts

  3. Assistive Technology

  4. Documentation

  5. Other Accessibility Features







Keyboard Navigation

Full Keyboard Navigation and Control

Full keyboard navigation gives the users the ability to perform all input via a keyboard, without using a mouse or other device.

The new and improved features are:





Colors and Fonts

Use of System Color Schemes, High Contrast

OpenOffice.org adapts to the color schemes and contrast display settings of the operating system.

In addition, OpenOffice.org offers additional settings for colors which are not specified in any system color schemes, as well as the possibility to overwrite colors from the current color scheme. You can create and store your own color schemes in OpenOffice.org.

The help system respects the colors from the current color scheme, but also provides different predefined styles. Users can customize the formatting of the help content via the xsl transformation file as well as via the custom style sheet file located in the help directory.



Automatic Text Color

All OpenOffice.org applications now support automatic text color for documents and use this per default, so the text is always readable independent from the background color.

The text will be displayed in the system text color. If this leads to dark text on a dark background, or bright text on a bright background, the text will switch to black or white, whichever provides contrast.

For reading old or imported documents which use hard-formatted text colors, you can use the new option 'Use automatic font color for screen display'.
All text content as well as table borders and some other elements will be displayed in the automatic font color.



New Icons and Bitmaps

OpenOffice.org provides complete new icon sets for small and large toolbar icons in normal and in high contrast mode, so the icons are more easily identifiable in the different modes.

All UI elements displaying a graphic offer an alternative graphic for high contrast mode.

OpenOffice.org automatically chooses the set of icons and graphics appropriate for the current system settings.



High Contrast Mode for Impress and Draw

Impress and Draw offer a high contrast mode, in which objects are displayed without fill colors or text colors.

This mode will automatically be used when high contrast is chosen in the system settings. You can turn off this automatic detection in the OpenOffice.org options under “Accessibility “.



System Font

OpenOffice.org can use the operating system font for the user interface, so that OpenOffice.org appears in the same font as your other applications and can be manipulated via the system settings.

There is special handling to ensure that dialogs do not become larger than the screen when schemes with large fonts are chosen.



More Changes







Assistive Technology

API for Supporting Assistive Technologies

Assistive Technology (AT) tools such as screen readers and magnifiers, as well as other tools, connect to OpenOffice.org using the Java Accessibility API (JAA) via the Java Access Bridge for Windows or GNOME.

OpenOffice.org now has a UNO Accessibility API (UAA) in which all elements of the UI and documents expose all the information about themselves and their contents.

UAA and JAA have some advantages over the off-screen models of AT tools or the Microsoft Active Accessibility API (MSAA).
UAA and JAA provide extended information for the document content, so AT tools do not have to get information via different proprietary application APIs from various applications, or by hooking into the display drivers.

An enormous effort has been made to have UI elements and document contents fully support the accessibility interfaces, for example: providing text with attributes and character bounds information, sending all the necessary notifications and providing names and descriptions of controls.

All AT tools which are able to work with Java applications via the Java Access Bridge will also run with OpenOffice.org.

The Java Accessibility API is supported by the most popular AT tools including:



Some AT tools send key events to the applications via the message loop, or simply control the mouse, so it makes no difference for the application if the input comes from a user or from an AT tool.

This way, a lot of AT tools such as simple on-screen keyboards, head mice, eye tracking devices and single switches can be used with OpenOffice.org.



Support for Comfortable Reading of Read-Only Documents

Screen reader users sometimes have difficulty reading read-only documents because they cannot navigate with the cursor through the document.

For this, we introduced the feature 'Use text selection cursor in read-only text documents'.



More Changes





Documentation

Accessible Documentation

All user documentation is provided in HTML and PDF formats so users can use screen readers and magnifiers to read the documentation.

Hyperlinks and graphics in the HTML documentation have names and alternate tags.

All keyboard shortcuts are documented in the online help.



Accessible Online Help

The online help provides information on how to use all the accessibility features in OpenOffice.org.

The online help is accessible itself. Users can access it using screen readers, magnifiers and on-screen keyboards.







Other Accessibility Features

Previous OpenOffice.org releases already offered some features helpful for accessibility:





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