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ORCA is a Linux based screen reader which has also been evolving for the past number of years. Although it is not the sole Linux-based screen reader, ORCA is definitely the most popular. Recently it has been included with the Ubuntu installation CD, and with a couple of initial key presses it allows blind people to have audible interaction during the installation process.

Orca is a free, open source, flexible, and extensible screen reader that provides access to the graphical desktop via user-customizable combinations of speech and/or braille.

Orca works with applications and toolkits that support the assistive technology service provider interface (AT-SPI), which is the primary assistive technology infrastructure for Unix-like environments like Linux, OpenBSD or Solaris. Applications and toolkits supporting the AT-SPI include the GNOME GTK+ toolkit, the Java platform’s Swing toolkit, SWT, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, Mozilla, and WebKitGtk. AT-SPI support for the KDE Qt toolkit is currently being pursued.

Thanks to the generous contributions of volunteers on the Gnome, Translation teams Orca has been translated into many of the world’s languages, with support for additional languages being added every day.

Here’s some nice things users have to say about Orca:

“I LOVE YOU GYS :)” –Sorry to bother you guys but I wanted to commend you and your team on the wonderful job that you do keeping this project together. I am a blind computer science major who uses this software on a daily basis. Without this screen reader I would not be able to perform my profession and dreams, which is to one day to help develop the next gen screenreader for the blind computer user. What makes this project even better is the fact that it is freeeeeeee! wow. The donation of your time is wellllll appriciated by me as well as many other visually impaired linux users.

Orca works great I’ve carefully tracked the performance of Orca vs it’s strongest competitor for over a year now (that would be JAWS). I just want to say congratulations! While JAWS still holds a small lead, Orca has closed the gap rapidly. I know what it’s like to be a developer – you hear all about the bugs, but when your code “just works”, you never hear from users. Well, your program is working very well for me. Thanks.