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Apache OpenOffice has support for various Accessibility aspects: keyboard navigation, scheming, assistive technology (AT) support, and much more.

Details can be found here:

There is a mailing list which can be used for user questions and comments, as well as for developer related things.

Please subscribe to by sending an email to

The Accessibility Project pages are here:

OpenOffice AT support

OpenOffice exposes it's information to AT via the Java Accessibility API (JAA) on Windows, via GNOME Accessibility API (ATK) on Linux/Solaris with GNOME and via NSAccessibility on MAC OSX.

More details about this can be found here.

Information for Developers and Testers can be found here.


To use Java Accessibility, a current version of Java (v1.5 or newer) must be installed. This can be found here:

Verify that OpenOffice uses the correct version: Choose menu Tools/Options/Java.

You also need the “Java Access Bridge for Windows v2”, which can be found here: (former url doesn't work anymore)

You also have to activate AT support in OpenOffice: Choose menu Tools/Options/Accessibility and check “Support assistive technology tools”. If you can't access the OOo GUI, you might want to use a registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\\Accessibility\AtToolSupport (dword:1) (Attention: If that key exists, the value from configuration will be ignored)

If you want to install the Access-Bridge only for one user, you can find some hints at Windows Access Bridge Single-User Install.

Adding support for IAccessible2 is an ongoing effort, see Accessibility/IAccessible2 support for the status.


Everything you need is included in current versions of GNOME.

Activate AT support globally: Preferences/Accessibility/Assistive Technology Support, check “Enable assistive technologies” More information can be found here:

Accessibility/TextAttributes lists the mapping between OOo text properties and ATK text attributes.


MacOSX Accessibility information.

OpenOffice interacts well in general with the VoiceOver screen reader that is built into Mac OS X. Enable the screen reader using Command-F5 and set the options using control-option-F8. OpenOffice accepts the VoiceOver Navigation well and for the most part the options are available to the screen reader. Some options can't be accessed with the screen reader navigation.

AT that works

In general, AT support is much better on GNOME than on Windows. This is no limitation within OpenOffice, but in Windows AT, which concentrates on other things, not on Java Accessibility.

  • Windows, Screen Reader
    • ZoomText 7.11, 8.12, 9.x
    • JAWS 6.2, 7.x
    • NVDA (open source!)
  • Windows, Screen Magnifier
    • ZoomText 7.11, 8.12, 9.x
  • Windows, On Screen keyboard
    • Probably all, because they just send Windows messages
  • GNOME, Screen Reader
    • Orca
    • Gnopernicus
  • GNOME, Screen Magnifier
    • Gnopernicus
    • (Orca)
  • GNOME, On Screen keyboard
    • GOK
    • Dasher
  • Mac OS X
    • VoiceOver


In order to get OpenOffice (Version 2.3 and up) speaking through the graphical screenreader Orca (, you don't necessarily need to start a gnome-session in GNU/Linux. Setting and exporting the following variables in the shell, will tell the soffice command to use the atk-spi bridge of GTK.

 export SAL_USE_VCLPLUGIN="gtk" GTK_MODULES="gail:atk-bridge"
orca &  # if not already running
soffice file.odt

With Orca running, all of OOo's menu functions are accessible with speech and braille using the left "Alt" key or the right "Menu" key on your keyboard, in combination with navigation functions that Orca provides with its hotkeys (usually Scroll_Lock plus one or more other keys).

AT support while giving a presentation

While the normal (edit) mode for presentations works well with AT, the slide show itself doesn't expose much information. The reason is the the slide show only has elements optimized for the slide show, and doesn't know the real objects in the presentation document. Even knowing the real objects, it's unclear how to best expose the content, given that you won't see all content at once, but the many transition effects result in many changes to what you see on the screen.

For making slide shows accessible, people should use the Presenter Console. (Please note the the currently available extension is not accessible - an update should be available in the OOo 3.2 time frame. See also Presenter Console for a description of the extension.

In the presenter console, the critical information is exposed to AT: Current slide and it's notes.

We believe that the presentation slides itself are not a good source for gathering the critical information you need while giving a life presentation, and that people would put information they need in the notes.

I hope some (accessible) documentation / help explaining the keyboard usage will also be available with the next version. See Presenter Console#Keyboard_Shortcuts for a list of the support keyboard shortcuts.

OpenOffice DAISY support

An Extension for exporting ODT to DAISY / DTBOOK is available here:

odt2daisy Extension

More details at

External Links

The Accessibility Users' Wiki

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