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The 4 Best Ubuntu Accessibility Features for the Visually Impaired


Ubuntu is one of the most widely used Linux distros and is ideal for both beginners and experienced users. Ubuntu Desktop is also packed with lots of accessibility features to make it usable to as many people as possible.


Computers are an essential part of society and must be accessible to everyone. Here are some of the best accessibility features in Ubuntu for people with visual impairments, such as low vision or blindness.


1. Orca

Orca is a screen reader that uses speech synthesis and braille to provide you access to the desktop via GNOME, a leading Linux desktop environment.

Orca is free to use and open-source and works with all applications and tool kits that support assistive technology infrastructure on Linux, and most applications on Linux support assistive technologies.

You can use Orca to navigate and interact with text, graphics, and other GUI elements on the screen. In addition, you can use it to read and compose emails and documents and perform different types of text-related tasks.

You can activate the Orca screen reader using Super + Alt + S, and use the same shortcut to disable it.

2. Magnifier

zoom_options_on_ubuntu

Another great accessibility feature on Ubuntu is the ability to zoom in on the screen for better readability. It works like a magnifying glass. This feature can be particularly useful for people who may have difficulty reading small text or graphics on the screen.

To enable the Zoom feature on Ubuntu, you can go to Settings by pressing the Super or Windows button, then select Accessibility. Under Accessibility, click the Zoom button located in the Seeing section.

You’ll be presented with some configuration options for the zoom functionality. For example, you can select the level of magnification that you want and how the cursor should behave. Furthermore, you can also adjust the color effects.

Disable screen magnification by toggling off the Zoom feature in the Accessibility menu.

You can also consider installing Accessible-Coconut on your computer, which is a Linux distro that specially caters to those with visual impairments.

3. Increase Text Size

As a complement to the Zoom feature, you can configure your system to show larger text in all applications.

Enable this feature by going to Settings then selecting the Accessibility tab and finally clicking the Large Text toggle button located in the Seeing section. Once enabled, your entire system will have enlarged text.

In most applications, you can also increase the text size by pressing the Ctrl and + buttons together or Ctrl and to reduce the text size.

Click the Large Text toggle button again to disable the large text feature.

If the fonts on your computer are not ideal for your needs, you can create your own custom fonts using tools such as Glyphtracer on Linux.

4. Other Accessibility Features

accessibility features section on Ubuntu for people with visual impairements

Some other features that make your Ubuntu machine more usable if you have visual impairments include:

  • High Contrast: This is a system theme that comes with a wide range of colors, icon styles, and mouse cursors that are easier on your eyes.
  • Cursor Size: Enlarge the cursor size if you have trouble viewing smaller fonts. It works particularly well if you are using the Zoom feature.
  • Sound Keys: A beep sound to notify when some special keyboard keys such as the Num Lock or Caps Lock buttons are pressed.

In addition, there are lots of GNOME extensions to provide you with a more customized Linux desktop environment.

Ubuntu and Linux Are Both Very Accessible

Ubuntu is a great Linux distro and contains a wide range of accessibility features to cater to different people including those with visual impairments.

Compared to other mainstream operating systems, Linux tends to be more accessible for people with visual impairments and other accessibility challenges.

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